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Viv and Steve Moll are local artisan beekeepers from Brightwell cum Sotwell. Brightwell Bees set spring honey and runny summer honey can be bought every week at the Saturday market. Viv and Steve tell us about the bees’ busiest spring season.

1Apple Blossom Bee 2010

As May comes to an end, our bees are collecting nectar from late flowering spring flowers, particularly hawthorn, horse chestnut and some of the later flowering apple varieties. Honey bees have been busy gathering nectar and pollen all spring – starting with snowdrops, aconites and crocus back in February. Nectar from the many types of spring blossom is made into honey, and the pollen balls carried back to the hive on the legs of bees are the source of protein, minerals and vitamins for the colony.

In the first days of June, we will start the spring honey harvest – we wait until this time when the honey is perfectly ripe with a lovely white capping covering the honeycomb. Our Brightwell Bees set honey is from this spring honey harvest.

When we harvest the spring honey crop, we always make sure that the bees are left with at least 7-10 kg of honey, as during the month of June there is virtually no wild blossom available for honey bees. The trees and hedges are in full bloom during the spring, the summer flowering plants are growing, but they mostly don’t start flowering until a bit later.  Between these two can be a lull in flowers available to insects; beekeepers call this the “June Gap”, and during this time, the bees in the hive will rely on their larder of spring honey to sustain the large colony – which is typically over 30,000 strong at this time.

The spring honey harvest is a very busy time for us, as we have about three weeks to harvest the spring honey and return the emptied honeycomb to the hive. In the last week of June, lime trees and blackberry start flowering, and the bees will make the most of the long days to gather nectar to make runny summer honey.

Fingers crossed for a nice warm dry spell to help the bees with their summer work.