BeeWelcome: our first NewBee!

Top left: Thomas preparing three more locations for hives at the back of the house;
Top right: Thomas and Orabi, the first Newbee to respond;
Bottom right: Simon from the Awesome Foundation, taking a look at a recently split hive

12 June 2016

Today was a wonderful day, in many ways! It was only last Tuesday that Kinda, a young Syrian woman who is studying at Stockholm university, visited us to talk about NewBees. Kinda works as a volunteer contact for the large group of Syrian new arrivals who are living in Farsta, south Stockholm, while they wait for their residence papers to come through. Via Kinda, we got to know Orabi, who joined us today for our inspection. Orabi used to keep three beehives in his garden in southern Syria (his brother still has 20+ hives) so he was familiar with bees. He told us that in Syria the hives are not expanded as the season goes on, they continue to live in one box (and swarm) – our way of beekeeping was new to him. But it was obvious he was comfortable around bees and was gentle when handling them, which is just the way to like to treat our bees.

Even though we took our time, we didn’t spot any of the five queens. We did decide to split the A-hive and move the new colony to the back of house, to a new location that Thomas had prepared earlier. We are hoping they will soon make their own queen. We may be able to sell a community like this in about 4 weeks’ time, once the new queen is mated and shows signs of egg laying. We’re hoping to make two more splits next weekend.

Apart from splitting the A-hive and adding a half height box to the D-hive, we made no other interventions – but we did cut out drone comb from all colonies.

Late afternoon, Simon from The Awesome Foundation came by to hand over the grant money we had been awarded a couple of weeks ago:

Awesome Foundation grant

He stayed long enough to get stung … we have noticed that the guard bees from the D- and E-hives in particular stay irritated for quite a long time after we inspect the hives. I had trouble carrying in some unused boxes after I had taken off my beesuit and one of them also buzzed us while having a coffee on the deck afterwards. It might be safer not to invite any dinner guests on the day we inspect. This is quite a difference with last year, when we could easily take people over the two hives, lift the lid (keeping the plastic cover on) and stand close to the hive while explaining what was going on inside without aggressive behaviour from the bees. The bees we bought from Laila are pretty laid back, but Cecelia’s bees are a whole different story.

Welcome to beekeeping, Stockholm style!

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