It's that time of the year when after browsing beekeeper's group and forum on various social networks, some are asking themselves....what should i offer/get for Xmas.
Having seen several posts on that subject, it's time for a modest reminder.... Honeybees are not pets (And we know that pets are not for Xmas.... but for life).
Acquiring beehives because it's "trendy" or because it's that time of the year is in most cases a direct path to a catastrophe for the colonies.
Every year, we come across abandoned and derelict colonies we have to rescue, because someone, somewhere has made a "gift" .
It's ok to make a present.
It's ok but it should not be without a strong background in beekeeping, or with a full mentoring program for the keeper (Join your local club if you wish to keep bees!!!!) for at least a full season before taking on colonies.
Picture on the left. An abandoned hive, discovered by a fellow beekeeper a few weeks ago. Photo credit Christophe Laroche.
Every now and then, we are called to the rescue for an derelict beehive, quite often crumbling under the vegetation. We are obviously happy to rescue the colony and re-home the bees, but abandoning a hive can lead to major issues. Without inspection, and abandoned beehive can be the origin of diseases for the bees, such as AFB which is deadly for a colony and can be easily spread to nearby apiaries.
Each colony we are rescuing goes through a quarantine process, isolated from other colonies, check on every few days and after a few months, we then move them to the final location. The colony rescue is a free process, but it does not mean that anybody can get a hive and then leave it without care afterward!!
On the right, the comb from a rescued top bar hive. Photo Raw Mellifera Ltd
So...What to do??
If you come across a beehive which has been abandoned or looks like it, or if you own a beehive you do not want anymore, just contact us at email@example.com or using the online form on the website!
We will then either advise if you are too far for us to intervene or come to check on the colonies, establish a plan of action and re-home the colonies.
And if you wish to acquire a beehive for Xmas, then populate it in the spring with a new colony, please join your local beekeeping club and/or find a mentor for guidance!
Bee happy, stay safe! Christophe