WARRINGTON’S last remaining beekeeper willing to collect bee swarms free of charge is appealing for help from the public in relocating colonies in substantial forestry areas of the borough.
Lymm based Frank Hilton is now the only Beekeeper prepared to catch swarms in the whole of the Warrington post code area free of charge and has been very successful with the breeding of wild bees in Delamere Forest and Owley Wood in Weaverham and is now appealing for help from the public to find substantial forestry locations in the Warrington area.
Now that Spring sprung the Bumble bee queen has left hibernation and is busy looking for a place to nest and raise her four hundred worker bees.
Frank said: “The honey bee has started to propagate our flowers, trees and gardens. The whole land is greener adorned by the coniferous trees joining the evergreens in leaf, the farmer has long since sown the seed which by now has turned fields from brown to green. Very soon their crops will be in flower making this green and pleasant land the most beautiful place in the world for the human being to live.
“What you may also see, is the small workaholic honey bee busy removing nectar from flowers and acquiring pollen from the flower’s stamen (the male part of propagation) stuck to its body, which is later transferred to the stigma (female part of propagation) of similar flowers, to facilitating the pollination process. Nectar is stored in the bee’s crop (honey sac) and shared with its family of up to 30,000 on return to the hive. The residue is stored in wax combs to become the basis of the honey which we all adore. Meanwhile the queen bee having survived the winter in the middle of a cluster of house bees, who have kept her at a temperature of 34oC throughout the winter irrespective of the temperature outside, starts to lay up to 1,500 eggs per day. She needs to lay at this rate to replenish the bees that die due to stress after 6 weeks of pollination and nectar collection.”
Frank added: “To explain the value of the honeybee to pollination in the UK; basically plants are pollinated by the transfer of pollen by wind or physical transfer by insects. Of the roughly 50% proportion done by insects, 85% is by honeybees, 10% by bumble bees and the balance of 5% by all other insects including flies, butterflys and wasps. Mankind would survive without bees, although some experts predict the opposite, but bee pollination is of major importance to farmers and those who eat their products.
“The way a colony of honeybees propagates its own species is to split it in two usually in late spring, by using a unique, interesting and successful swarm. They decide to leave when they reach a point where there is no more room in the hive to store honey, to help them survive the coming winter. Or to build comb for the queen to lay eggs for a future generation. Before swarming they build a special large queen cell each day for eight days, in which the queen lays one egg in each. The eggs become larvae in three days and then fed royal jelly for another five days, whereupon the workers seal the cell and prepare to leave. Prior to this the bees about to swarm have been loading their honey sac with honey from the stores and once the last queen cell is sealed they leave the hive taking the queen with them. They have therefore left eight chances for the bees left behind to survive if one of the eight cells produces a viable queen.
“A swarm’s normal procedure is to rest not far from the hive usually on a branch of a local tree, in a fence or bushes. From where they send out scouts to find somewhere more desirable to live and set up a new colony. The big problem now is that they may choose your chimney, wall cavity or some other desirable (to them) space within your roof, from where they cannot be removed without major building damage and cost. As the majority of swarms only stay in the local tree for less than 24 hours it is imperative that we remove them on the day they swarm. The only chance we beekeepers can help, is for you to immediately inform us when you see a swarm or on them settling down by contacting a local beekeeper. A swarm when flying, are so dense that they may even darken the local area blocking out the sun, a swarm will consist of more than 10,000 bees, so when they have settled they may be difficult to see then or whatever they are clustering on. If you see a swarm in flight just stand still and watch them go by, it is a beautiful sight and they will not sting unless you seriously interfere with them.”
Frank is the local BBKA approved Swarm Collector covering the whole of Warrington and its surrounds.
“My role is to save the bees from being a nuisance to the general public, to restore them into manageable equipment, ensure the continuation of their availability for pollination of crops and gardens and for my own enjoyment.
I do not charge anything and will even help you with bumble bees if required and would welcome the opportunity to tell you all the amazing things that these wonderful insect do. What can you do to help you may ask?”
Frank can be contacted on the BBKA (British BeeKeepers Association) web site www.bbka.org.uk/services/SwarmRemoval and click your post code in the swarm collection section, Or Email: email@example.com Or phone 01925 551839, mobile 07801632832.