Five top tips to keeping a beehive

At BaxterStorey, we are buzzing about our beekeeping. Some of our teams in England and Scotland have introduced bee hives to their kitchen gardens to produce fresh honey for our customers to enjoy.

In celebration of National Honey Bee Day, we caught up with beekeeper Brain McCallum who supports our London locations in looking after their colonies. Brian shares his five top tips to keeping a beehive of your own:

1.Plant more food
One of the largest threats to bees is the lack of habitat. Brian said: “It’s crucial that we grow more nectar-rich plants, trees and wildflowers for our insect friends. Planting flowers in patches is great, as bees prefer to focus on one flower at a time”. Pots in a patio, herbs in a planter or even a hanging basket can get you going and help feed the bees.

2.Use frames
There are many designs of hive frames, but one that is movable is best. Frames secure the comb in place but more importantly are removable and allow you to check on your hives regularly. Our Scotland-based head chef Jim uses frames for his location’s 15 hives, containing over 35,000 bees. They make it easier to harvest his blossom honey to be sold to his customers with proceeds going to charity.

3.Inspect the hives once a week
Inspecting the hive is important and should be done every 7-10 days, allowing you to monitor the productivity of the bees. It also helps identify anything unusual, such as diseases in the colony. However, don’t overdo the inspections; opening and closing the hive too much disturbs the bees and hinders the productivity.

4.Don’t harvest the honey too early
It can be difficult to know when and how much honey to harvest. The amount of honey you can take depends on the strength of the colony. Brian said: “When you harvest the honey, always leave some left for winter. If you don’t, you could lose the colony to starvation. The colder and longer the winter, the more they will need”.

5.Start early in the season
April through to July is the time to start beekeeping. Starting too early can kill your bees as they won’t be able to find food or keep warm. On the other hand, if you start too late, the bees won’t have enough time to make enough honey to survive the winter.

If you’re interested in helping bees in the city, find out more at urbanbees.co.uk.

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