Our Home. Finishing Touches

Teals - A view from Teals - Teals Somerset

The scaffolding came down the same day our bees arrived. Amidst the noise and throng of industrious scaffolders, master beekeeper Geoff checked on our 8 colonies of bees in the orchard, each in their own brood box.

Re-homing bees is skilled work. You need to wait until the last bee is back in the box from its days’ work – sometimes as late as 11pm at this time of year – to quietly close up the box, move it and reopen it so that the workers can fly again from dawn. Bees need to be moved less than three feet or more than three miles in order to reorient themselves. Because ours came from just down the road, they actually had to be moved twice – far enough away the first time, that they wouldn’t be confused when they were settled in our orchard.

Teals Bees
Teals Somerset
Teals Somerset

A bee’s year is a short one, dependent on a few weeks of warm weather in June and July. To maximize the honey crop, you need to carefully build up numbers in the colony so that it’s at its greatest number just as the nectar begins to flow. It’s a balancing act from the beekeeper of skill, attention and timing – with a good dose of luck from the weather gods. On a good year, a colony will grow as large as 50,000 bees and make enough honey to fill 100 jars.

On a warm sunny day, each bee may fly up to three miles away, hundreds of times a day, to carry its previous cargo of nectar back and forth. Around us in Somerset, the spring blossom of apple, rape and hawthorn will produce a gentle, classic spring honey; in summer, the clover, bramble and borage should develop an altogether more fruity honey.

Our own journey has taken a bit longer – we broke ground on the building in the dark days of winter – but we’ve been just as busy setting up our new home. Once we’ve unpacked in a few weeks time, just like our bees, we’ll be able to get on with our real job of sharing local produce with you.

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