Hives of activity as bees return

OVER 60,000 bees have caused a buzz by returning to hives in Crow country after a two-year absence.

The bees are being kept in two hives on Bayer CropScience’s developmental farm at Chishill. Hives had been present on the 20-hectare site for more than a decade, but were dismantled two years ago after the beekeper retired.

Now a team of local bee enthusiasts, Professor Paul Sibbons, Dr Tahera Ansari, and Geoff and Tina Creek have agreed to look after the new colonies.

“It’s a great location for bees,” said Prof Sibbons.

“They will have year-round foraging with all the fruit crops, arable crops and wild strips.

The farm is used to test and develop new and existing products, and Bayer CropScience maintains a plum orchard on the site. This will provide the basis of the bees diet, along with other plants such as wild clover, willow, brambles, and ivy. This year the farm is including beans in the crop rotation, which will extend the range of foraging opportunities available to the bees.

“Like all forms of livestock, bee-keeping is a form of husbandry,” said Prof Sibbons, an experienced beekeeper with hives in several locations, including Duxford and Burwell.

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“With bees it’s the number of frames they occupy, the quality of the wax, the total population, the numbers at different growth stages and the different types of bees – workers, foragers, cleaners and guard bees – that indicate the health of the hive.”

The first crop of honey from the farm should be ready for harvest next summer. If successful, Professor Sibbons hopes to establish up to six colonies on the site in the next few years.