Penrhyn Castle bee news: June 2017

A decoy bee hive, scented with beeswax in the Walled Garden at Penrhyn Castle

Our bees have settled into their new Walled Garden home so we thought it was about time to catch up with our resident beekeeper Katie and her girls, to see what's been going on.

Hi Katie, what's new in the world of the Penrhyn Castle bees?

We have some very exciting news!  When our girls moved to Penrhyn Castle, to our delight we found that they had some noisy neighbours; a colony of feral bees had decided to set up home inside the wall of the Walled Garden.

The new colony is a very friendly bunch of Buckfast bees. The breed is originally from Buckfast Abbey hence the name.

You’ve been trying to catch them, why?

Every year a colony or hive makes a new queen and the old queen leaves with half of her daughters to find a new home. This is called a swarm.

The bees in the wall need a bit of 'bee love' and some medicine to help them survive so it was vital that we caught them when they swarmed.

In hives we manage this by taking the old queen out with some of her daughters and putting her in a new hive but if they live in a wall it is very hard to do that.

How did you go about it?

We set up boxes with the scent of beeswax in trees to lure them into a safe place and our garden team have been on "beewatch" for a month.

Our beewatch team saw them in a tree near the decoy and we came to put them into a small hive.

What next for our wall bees?

They will go on holiday to Cemlyn nature reserve for two weeks and then they will return to the castle in their new refurbished hive.

We also hear there's a buzz of excitement from the visitor centre too?

Yes! A little carpenter bee has chosen our visitors centre to have her babies. Carpenter bees are an extremely gentle bee that lay eggs in small balls of pollen.

We hope to make her a little bee house nearby so she will have somewhere for her and her babies to hibernate safely and the visitors can enjoy watching her for years to come.  

Any other news from the Penrhyn Bees?

All of our girls are having jazzy new hives over the next few months to celebrate their honey winning the Welsh Produce of the Year Award.

To top it all Penrhyn's honey will be featuring in a special BBC Radio 4 cooking item with celebrity chef Hardeep Singh!

You can visit our walled garden to see our new hives, or you can hear more from Katie during Plas Newydd's Bee Week in July and at our stands at the National Eisteddfod and Anglesey Show in August.