Update on Harbour Honey from our bee keeper, Colin Falla:
Our bees have certainly been enjoying the recent warm weather. We have been out to catch a new swarm which wanted to make its home in a children’s nursery. So we now have 7 live colonies on Thorney Island. The small woodland they are in now completely hides them from the outside world, perfect seclusion for our bees. I've built a second hive stand to accommodate a few more hives but once this is full then this particular location will be at about capacity. We will start looking at other locations where we can start a new apiary nearby in the AONB.
A very small swarm technically know as a "cast" or "afterswarm" of bees appeared on the jetty at Emsworth. Some hives when they move into swarming mode don't just produce a primary swarm which contains the old queen and usually between ten and fifteen thousand bees, but continue emitting smaller and smaller swarms each containing a new virgin queen. It’s not clear why they do this as often these "casts" being so small have extremely low survival potential. I guess over the millennium a few survive and so the genetic code to perform like this is passed on.
A normal sized swarm would only rest in one place for a few hours before the scout bees led it to a new home. These poor girls simply haven't got enough bodies to make that type of "decision" and would probably sit in situ for weeks until they starved or got washed or blown away. As they are in a public place , I’ve collected them and transferred them to a spare hive. I have extremely low expectations that they will survive - but you never know, nature can surprise.