What a pitch!

Congratulations to our newly appointed Executive Members for 2012/13, Joseph Wolfe (Treasurer) and Beauregard Simmons (Secretary)!  I (Amelia Sharman, President) am really looking forward to working with them to get our new hive on Connaught House up and running.

And, because it was far too funny not to share, here’s Beauregard’s pitch for Secretary.  It’s un-beelievably good!

“Why would I bee a good secretary? Well let me lay it out for you in black and yellow. Prepare to bee beedazled and beewitched beecause I’m no bumbling idiot. With the diplomacy of Beerack Obeema and the speed of Bruce Bee, I will help the LSE Beekeeping Society bee all it can bee with service fit for a queen. There will be no winging it or buzzing off when needed, even in the face of man eating zombees. If you choose me as your plan Bee and I finish beehind the others, you won’t hurt my feelers, though it may sting a little. Enough of me droning and waxing on though, but beefore I finish, I want to say I won’t appologize for this swarming of beed puns beecause, it’s not that its beeneath me, but I’m not pollen anyone’s leg. I would beehoove you all to beelieve in me.”

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Next visit to the hive

It’s a bit cold at the moment in London, so the bees are all inside huddling up for warmth.  So while they might not be so active, it’s still a good idea for us to check in on them from time to time to make sure they’re ok and not needing any more winter feed or varroa treatment.

So, our next visit to the hive will be this coming Monday (11th of February) at 1pm.  Just take the lift to the 8th floor of Connaught House (or walk if you’re feeling energetic!), then continue up the last flight of stairs (around the corner to your right) to the roof.

This week we’re also going to be having some members of LSE SU’s Digital team who are planning to make a short video about the Beekeeping Society.  So, don’t be shy, say hello to Leon and his team while you’re up there!

Surviving the winter

Quite a few people have asked why we’re not harvesting any honey this year from our hive on top of Connaught House.  As much as I’d love some to spread on my toast, it’s actually because the bees need it!  We’re hoping that the bees will be able to feed themselves from their own honey over the winter as much as possible, rather than relying on us to feed them.  As of the end of October they were still getting pollen which is great – can you see it on the legs of this bee?

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However, they will need some help as the hive hasn’t been in operation long enough to create enough honey to last the whole of winter and the winter feed is pretty neat.  We’re feeding our bees something called Ambrosia, which is a commercially available mix of sucrose, glucose and fructose, and kind of looks like a big block of icing sugar paste.

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As you can see, they’re only eating it pretty slowly.  The whole in the middle of the bag is where the bees come up through the hive to have a nibble, before heading back down into the warmth of the main part of the hive.  You can read more about feeding bees over the winter here.

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The bees all huddle together around the queen, and operate a rotational system, kind of like penguins in the Antarctic, to make sure that everyone has a turn on the edge.  They manage to keep the interior of the huddle at a pretty balmy 20 degrees Celsius which I think is quite impressive!

So, all in all, our Connaught House bees are doing well and we’re hoping to improve the health of the Passfield Hall bees too (more on them soon).

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It’s dropped down to zero degrees Celsius here in London today, with a pretty thick frost cover, so here’s hoping our bees are still doing well!

Can eating local honey cure allergies?

While talking about the LSE hives at a PhD event last night, someone mentioned that they’d heard that eating local honey could cure allergies.  This immediately got me thinking about how we could market future LSE honey stocks to students living close to campus!

On the surface, it seems like it might make sense, as eating local honey would build up your body’s immunity to local allergens.  But is it fact or fiction?

Unfortunately, it seems like it might be fiction…

This article from the New York Times explains that some research carried out at the University of Connecticut showed no effect between eating local honey and reduction in allergy symptoms.  Why?  Because, as Dr. Stanley Fineman, president-elect of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology explains, “seasonal allergies are usually triggered by windborne pollens, not by pollens spread by insects”.

So, while local honey might not help out with your allergy symptoms, it still tastes good and helps out bee populations.  Here’s hoping next year will bring some more LSE honey to try!

A hard summer for bees

It’s been a hard summer for bees in the UK, with yields down by 72% compared to 2011 (see here).  While our hive on Connaught House is looking good as it prepares for winter (pictures coming soon!), other hives haven’t been so lucky.

So why has it been so hard?  As most of you know, it’s been a cold and wet summer here in the UK and that’s not been ideal for  flower growth.  As with many other hives, we’ve had to feed our bees during the summer months – something we shouldn’t need to do when pollen is more abundant.

Hives in London have had a particularly poor season, with hives producing only an average of 2.5kg each.  We didn’t harvest any honey from our hives this year as we figured they’d need it to survive the winter.  Here’s hoping they do!

The British Beekeepers Association argues that we need more trained beekeepers to help support bee populations.  We’re hoping to get another hive for Connaught House for next season so we can do our bit to help UK bee populations survive.

A grey Autumn day in London – less rain and more sunshine please!