New Hives at The Apiary

October 21, 2016 | What's The Buzz?

“It doesn’t take much to fall in love with your bees.
They have such a beautiful nature.” 

Adrian Iodice – Earth Garden Magazine No 176

And so we have fallen in love with our bees. It wasn’t difficult to do!

Spring has blossomed here at the Abbey, and we have suddenly gone from four hives to fourteen. Sr Veronica and I have been receiving our Kenyan Top Bar hives from the wonderful men at the Albion Park Men’s Shed, who have made us 11 beautiful Kenyan Top Bar hives designed specifically for our windy, subtropical rainforest environment. The hives are now in place in our new apiary site, and it wasn’t long before we were contacted by a local beekeeper who is interested in natural beekeeping with Kenyan Top Bar Hives. He offered to donate his swarms to our Abbey Bee Project.

During the past month we have received a generous donation of nine swarms from beekeeper Eric McAuley. Eric’s calm and gentle bees swarmed from his hives and are now in residence here at the Abbey Apiary. We have been very busy helping the bees to settle into their new homes. In the following picture you can see the bees have just been placed into the hive. As they arrive, they raise their abdomen and fan their wings so that their nasanov gland will attract all the members of the swarm to the hive. The message is, “This is home”. There are no guarantees that bees will stay in their new home once placed into the hive. So far we have been lucky.

In the two weeks since their arrival, the new colonies have set to work quickly. We checked the hives today and felt a sense of awe at how these little insects quickly make a home. Wax comb is appearing on many of the top bars already. We have had to add bars to give them room to build.

It is a pleasure to work here at our Apiary. It is such a beautiful place.

The recent new additions to our apiary are:

Queen Rosa, sponsored by Eric Harrison
Queen Elizabeth, sponsored by Geoff Harrison
Queen Emmanuelle, sponsored by Rod Kirsop
Queen Judge Jimmy, sponsored by Julie Macken
Queen Naomi Justine, sponsored by Therese Proctor
Queen Sam Sellews, sponsored by Chris and Felicity Giles
Queen Angeline, sponsored by Narelle Nicholls
Queen Monica, sponsored by John Sinclair
Queen Marie, sponsored by the Griffiths Family


As these hives were being constructed over winter, the four hives we had were very quiet. It is very important to make sure your bees have access to a water source. However, even if they do have a water source, there’s nothing to stop them drinking from an unusual source. Queen Margie’s hive at the Figtree Hermitage was a delight for me to watch as they chose to drink from the rain gauge on the fence. I had to refill it several times for them!

A big thank you to Adrian Iodice from Beekeeping Naturally whose mentoring is such a gift in helping us launch our bee project. Thank you to the amazing Albion Park Men’s Shed for their work building our hives, and to Eric McAuley for supplying our bees. Thank you to all who have sponsored each hive and made this possible.

Lee-Ann the beekeeper