There is hive of activity in the apiary now that spring is well and truly here. We have been observing the entrance of our hive over the past few months, to check that our bees had survived the winter and importantly that the queen was present and active. Honeybees need an air temperature of around 12⁰C to fly without danger of becoming chilled, and as the days warmed up the number of flying bees increased and the over-wintered bees began bringing bags of brightly coloured pollen into the hive. This was a sure sign that the queen had begun to lay and size of our colony was on the increase.
During the rare warm days in March and April we were able to take a quick look into the hive to gauge how things were going, and on one occasion we were joined by the Provost, who has wholeheartedly supported the Pollination plan for campus and Ireland, as well as encouraging us to develop the apiary for Trinity.
This week Marcus and I carried out our first full hive inspection of year, and will keep this up on a weekly basis for the next 3 months. The inspections will keep us informed of the health and productivity of the hive, and importantly help us prevent swarming. The first thing we noticed when opening the hive was the sweet smell of wax and nectar, a sign of a healthy hive. We removed the roof and crowd-board to allow us access to the brood-chamber, the area where the queen resides and where the bees are raised. Each of the brood-frames was lifted out and examined, to check that the queen is laying, that she has adequate space for the 1500- 2000 eggs she will lay per day, that the bees have has adequate pollen and nectar stores, and that there is no evidence of disease.
Susie Bioletti is the Head of Preservation and Conservation at the Library and Marcus Phelan is the Senior Technical Officer for Trinity’s Hazardous Materials Facility. Together, they are our campus beekeepers and will be writing a regular segment for Campus Buzz on “The Buzz from the Hive”. Keep an eye out next month for more news from the hive!