08/05/2019

Two honey bee hives arrive at Chesterford Research Park’s new aviary

Our latest arrivals have been creating quite a buzz around the site. 20,000 honey bees have a new home at the Park after three members of the team passed their bee-keeping course with flying colours!

Karl Smith, Park Operations Manager, said: “One of the hives was relocated from a new house build by John Timms of Charles River, where the bees had used an air brick for entry and exit. The other came from a bee keeper in Saffron Walden who was retiring from bee keeping after 40 years. We’re proud to be the new guardians of these colonies and are committed to helping them thrive.”

Jaison Waldock, Catering Manager, said: “I’m particularly looking forward to using our own Chesterford Research Park harvested honey in the restaurant. And, bees allowing, to sell some of our honey to help sustain our bee keeping.”

Honey bees are not only of value because of the honey they produce; the services that honey bees provide as key pollinators of crops and of natural landscapes are of far greater significance.

Katherine Maguire, Park Manager, said: “The whole team is really excited about the arrival of the bees. We’re fortunate to be on such a large, rural location which allows us to have the hives and play a small but important part in supporting the UK’s honey bee population for years to come”.

 

Bee facts
In any hive there are three types of honey bee: a single queen; thousands of female worker bees and, in the summer, hundreds of male drones.

The honey bee has three pairs of legs, six legs in total. However, the rear pair is specially designed with stiff hairs to store pollen when flying from flower to flower. The front pair of legs has special slots to enable the bee to clean its antenna.

The honey bee has four wings in total. The front and rear wings hook together to form one big pair of wings and unhook for easy folding when not flying.

It is possible for bees to fly as far as 5 miles for food; however, an average distance would be less than a mile from the hive. A strong colony therefore flies the equivalent distance from Earth to the Moon every day.

The normal top speed of a worker bee would be about 15-20mph (21-28km/h) when flying to a food source and about 12mph (17km/h) when returning with nectar, pollen, propolis (resin collected from tree buds) or water.

The honey bee has five eyes, two large compound eyes and three smaller ocelli eyes in the centre of its head.

Bees’ eyes can detect a wide array of colour. Their eyes are more sensitive to the blue end of the spectrum and into ultra violet. Flowers reflect large amounts of ultra violet light and to a bee will be very bright. Curiously, when it comes to red, bees are totally blind.

Bees do not sleep – but they do remain motionless to preserve vital energy for the next day of foraging.

Source: The British Beekeepers Association