Wednesday, April 30, 2014
Rescuing bees and setting up a community beekeeping project
In my village of Sunniside, Sun Hill, the aged person's housing, has been replaced with a new building. The old one is now being demolished. However, we have known about a feral bee colony that has lived in the roof for over 7 years. I was able to persuade the Gateshead Housing Company, former owners of the building, and Keepmoat, the housing association that now owns it to let me go in to rescue the colony.
Three weeks ago, we checked out the empty building and the flat under the colony. We then had discussions with Keepmoat about removing the ceiling boards but were told we could not touch them. They were covered with artex which contains asbestos. For a while, we thought we would have to abandon our rescue bid. However, the demolition has now started and the ceiling boards have all gone. I visited the building this afternoon and was informed that there are 3 colonies, not one. I took a look at them (easy to do now that the ceilings have gone) and realised this was going to be a bigger challenge than we expected.
The above photo is of the of the rear of Sun Hill. The colony we were aware of is above the open windows. That colony looks to me to be the oldest and my guess is that the other two came from swarms generated by this one. This is what the older one looks like:
The following is a picture of one of the newer colonies:
Our plan is to move the colonies into hives and then temporarily rehouse the hives away from Sunniside until we are able to set up a community beekeeping project. My expectation is that we can get that up and running next year but we will need to bid for funding for equipment. At the moment I am planning to use up my spare empty hive equipment to house the colonies. I will then need to replace what I use as we will shortly be in the bee swarming season and will need equipment to house any swarms from our own hives.
So, if you are in Gateshead and are interested in taking part in a community beekeeping project, email me.