Honey Harvest 2016

Honey harvest 2016

Honey harvest 2016

Our honey harvest for 2016 is complete bringing in a grand total of 90lbs of honey.
We extracted the honey from the combs using our new tangential honey extractor.
First the wax cappings were removed from the cells. The frames of honey were put in the extractor and spun round flinging the drops of honey outwards by centrifugal force. The honey ran down the sides of the cylinder and was strained into a bucket.

Then it was poured into jars and labelled.
Next came the sticky job of clearing up. honey_label
The empty frames were returned to the bees to clean and add the remaining honey to their winter stores.
The honey is delicious! We are selling it for £5.50 a jar to members or £6 to non members with 50p deposit included on the jar.


Click any of the photos below to see them in as slides. Click here to see what happened after the bees had cleaned-up – they went looking for the missing honey! (Jim)

1. Capped honey ready waiting to be extracted

1. Capped honey ready waiting to be extracted

2. Capped honey in comb

2. Capped honey in comb

3. Uncapped honey in comb

3. Uncapped honey in comb

4. Honey frames in extractor

4. Honey frames in extractor

5. Extracting the honey

5. Extracting the honey

6. Draining the extractor

6. Draining the extractor

7. Straining the honey

7. Straining the honey

8. Honey in bucket

8. Honey in bucket

Honey harvest 2016

Honey harvest 2016

Bees in August

Vespa crabro, European Hornet on a hive

This is NOT a hornet – it is Volucella zonaria, a hoverfly. Hornets get a bad press once again.

August is the time when our gentle honey bees become more defensive. They are still out foraging for nectar to convert to honey and store for the winter but others have designs on their honey – wasps, hornets, badgers, bears (well, maybe not in Norfolk) and people. Our bees are ready to defend their stores with their lives if necessary – a bee dies after stinging someone.

Tsveta_and_Lily_holding_smokerThe change of mood was evident when Lily and her mum, Tsveta, inspected one of our hives with me on 16th August. Lily was excited to see inside a hive, but when the bees showed signs of being disturbed we decided to withdraw.

Several members at MCG have taken advantage of our spare protective clothing to view life in a hive this year. Others who would like to watch honey bees at work or help with looking after our colonies should get in touch with me in the spring.


More bee stories…

Early Years at MCG

Marlpit Community Garden was a lively place to be on Tuesday.
Regular volunteers were joined by children from the Earlham Early Years Children’s Centre and their parents. Some of the parents spent time weeding the garden as well as helping their children to plant and water flowers and herbs in a special plot. They will be coming along for four Tuesdays during August.
2016-07-21 10.51.43Two older girls took a break from working their after-school and holiday plot to don protective suits and join a group that Tish took up to the bee sanctuary to view inside one of our hives.

A substantial lunch cooked by Amy and Mahesh was much appreciated by visitors and volunteers.


A Swarm at Marlpit Community Garden.

Last Friday morning Tish discovered that one of the hives was preparing to swarm. Honeybees were leaving and gathered in a nearby Blackthorn bush in the hedge by the Forest Garden.
Tish rang Mahesh, who called in Jim, and together he and Tish managed to capture the swarm.

Tish took these photos – click to enlarge –

1 - Old home - these bees stayed putOld home – these bees stayed put

2 - Swarming beesSwarming bees

3 - Swarm landed

Swarm landed

4 - Where is the swarm?Where is the swarm?

5 - Temporary accommodationTemporary accommodation

6 - Evening outside their new homeEvening outside their new home

7 - The new tenants at number 4The new tenants at number 4 8 - The bees safely housed - time for home after a long daySafely housed – time for home after a long day

Jim’s Bee Movie” on Youtube or Click here to see these photos by Jim (in OneDrive).

PS Yesterday (21 July) we acquired a new hive generously donated by Gareth, who has recently had to stop keeping bees.

2016-07-21 10.51.39

Times-bee-33b8c5fc-8eef-11e5_1014447cNews – Organic pesticide increases risk to bees!

The Times 20/11/2015

Biologists were astonished to find that nematode worms, … Organic pesticide increases risk to bees. … are more harmful to bumblebees than …


honey extractorWe extracted 16lbs of gorgeous honey from our bees on 24th June. This was much less than I had anticipated. When I checked three weeks earlier the bees appeared to have plenty of honey to spare. However, because of the cold, wet weather they have been drawing heavily on their stores to feed their young. Honey bees can’t go out foraging in poor weather.

In fact the National Bee Unit has since issued warnings to beekeepers to check their bees in case of starvation, and to feed them if necessary. I have been checking, and although the hives where I took honey still have sufficient, I have had to feed the other two colonies with syrup (that is sugar dissolved in water) to tide them over.

The bees collect honey for food and convert it to honey to store it. They also collect pollen to feed their young, and in the process pollinate our crops and flowers. So, of course, honey is first and foremost for the bees. Having said that, if we have a good summer I hope that they will have more surplus honey that we can harvest later in the year.

Tish (Beekeeper)

Last year’s Honey Day

Half Term Activity at Marlpit Community Garden on Saturday, 4th June 2016

All about Bees
Lilly Beaman (7 years)

What a great day we had! The sun was shining, the flowers were blooming and the bees were buzzing. We played games, drew pictures, learnt interesting things about the bees and even danced like a bee to send messages. Many children came and took part in the activities – even my little sister Daisy picked a flower and looked for pollen, and she is only 18 months!
Tish, the lady that organised it was very good – she showed us tools we use to look after our bees – like the protective costume, smoker and a real bee honeycomb. She was also very kind to us, even when my little brother nearly ate the wax candle.
We had cakes and drinks and I was very happy that everyone liked our cupcakes- me and my mum decorated them with little bees and I cut all the leaves and daisies by myself!
A very great day! Thank you!

Photos by Tsveta
For more photos click here.


 Existing colonies

We went into the winter at Marlpit Community Garden with two thriving colonies of bees in our apiary. The third colony had a virus disease, chronic bee paralysis, and sadly didn’t survive the winter.
On 4th May it was warm enough to open up our two remaining hives for the first inspection of the year. The mild winter meant the queens continued laying right through, and the cold April kept the flying bees indoors on most days and delayed the inspection.
Both colonies are doing well. I found thousands of worker bees, some drones, and evidence the queens had been busy, in the form of brood – eggs, uncapped brood (larvae) and capped brood(pupae).
I also found queen cups and queen cells in both hives. This was a sign that the bees were preparing to swarm and urgent action was needed if the queen and half the bees were not to leave in search of a new home.
Over the next two days I performed an “artificial swarm” on both hives. This is a method of separating the queen and flying bees from most of the house bees and brood and at least one queen cell. Then, if all goes well, the old queen will continue to lay in one hive, while in a new hive the workers will raise a new queen, she will go on a mating flight and on her return start laying and establish a new colony.
If this is successful, we will end up with four colonies of bees instead of two.

Badevci Hive

Five days later I received a call from John Everett of Apple Bee Apiary and Orchard that the “nuc” of bees we had ordered for the hive donated by the Heary family were ready. I collected them on Tuesday 10th May and set up their box on site, ready to introduce them to their new home once they settled down.


New Colony

Bees moving_inOn Wednesday I introduced the bees to the Badevci Hive by transferring the frames from the nuc box to their
new home with the bees still on the comb. Within minutes they started to emerge from the doorway and orientate themselves to their new position.
Some of them seemed confused because this hive was on legs so I gave them some bricks to climb up to help them to find the way home.
Bees - moving_in_close-up


Climbing Roses

Two Keith Maughan climbing rose shrubs have been given to Marlpit Community Garden by Wayne Taylor in memory of his father, Keith Maughan, who died ten years ago. They are two of seventy of the rose donated to formal gardens and community projects. Keith Maughan, who died 10 years ago, spent his life in Norfolk as an artist, illustrator and teacher of drama.Keith Maughan Rose_page_001The rose, developed by Peter Beales Classic Roses, was introduced at the 2008 Chelsea flower show. Its single, fragrant apricot, yellow and pink flowers are attractive to bees and we have planted them in a position to climb up the fencing surrounding our apiary.


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Badevci Hive

Beaman children with beehiveThe Beaman children photographed with the hive that the family donated for our apiary at Marlpit Community Garden.
They have called the hive ‘Badevci’ as a tribute to Sveta’s grandfather. He was a beekeeper in the village of that name and first raised her interest in bees.
name plateThe hive now joins the other two thriving colonies in our bee sanctuary. It’s new inhabitants will be introduced to their home in late spring or early summer.
When the numbers build up in our existing hives they will probably prepare to swarm. That is when it is possible to divide one colony into two and introduce one of these to the new hive. If all goes well they will quickly settle in the ‘Badevci’ hive. Their queen will start laying eggs and the workers will be busy bringing home pollen and nectar to feed the young and store in the combs.

Marlpit Bees Ready For Winter

bees_wrapped_up-x768Our bee hives are wrapped up and ready for winter. Green woodpeckers love to feast on honey in cold weather, so we have wrapped the hives in wire mesh to stop them. Bricks and stones on the roofs should prevent the hives blowing over and the entrances have been partly blocked to keep out any mice looking for somewhere to nest.

On mild days the worker bees can still be seen bringing in last minute supplies, but on most days during the winter they will be clustered together with the queen in the centre. They vibrate their wing muscles to maintain the temperature of the cluster at 35˚C.


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Pond Life at Marlpit Community Garden

filling the pond-20150515

Filling the pond in May 2015

The pond we dug in February (and filled in May) near to the bee sanctuary in Marlpit Forest Garden has been attracting wild life all summer.
Bees, wasps and butterflies have been seen drinking the water, dragonflies hovering above it and water boatmen swimming through the water weed.DSCN1951-pond
Frogs and toads, big and small, have been seen in and around the pond and baby newts were found there in October, showing that we have created an environment where they can breed successfully.


This frog posed for his photo last week.




Mark Sorrell planting bulbs


Crocus vernus var. “Cream Beauty”

Volunteers at Marlpit Community Garden planted 1,500 crocus bulbs on Tuesday 3rd November. The bulbs, 1000 tommasinius and 500 cream beauty were chosen as being particularly appealing to bees and will provide our honey bees with nectar and pollen on warm days in early spring. Most of the bulbs were planted near to the bee sanctuary and others will brighten up the entrance to the garden.


Crocus tommasinianus (Woodland Crocus, Tommasini’s Crocus, early crocus)



Happy New Year

First Sunday of 2014 is … … Food Sharing Sunday

Come along to the GO2 Centre at Bluebell South Allotments on Sunday 5th at 1pm to meet other growers and share food and food ideas. Crops are somewhat limited at this season, but could include Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Kale, Lamb’s Lettuce, Leeks, Parsnips or Swiss Chard. We have a few seasonal recipes on our website – see the following link-pictures – but if you’d like to contribute any just send them to Recipes

January recipes for kale

January recipes for kale

Best Wishes from the Food Team

Rustling Bees

In the run-up to Christmas we had a disappointing setback at Marlpit Community Garden. bee-rustling Tish_Kerkham-beesOur first hive of honey-bees was stolen – click the pictures above to see the published news story.

We’ll find some more soon.honey_bee_flying_md_wht
Best wishes for the new growing year,