Fig 1. Frame with honeycomb
Honeybees (Apis Mellifera) are a minor species of livestock, but one of major importance. Honeybees are essential
pollinators of fruit and vegetables. Beekeeping is an absorbing hobby, which can be made into a profitable small
business. The main crops of honey in Wales are from sycamore in May; lime trees, clover and blackberry in July; and
ling heather in August.
80 to 90% of honey sold in the UK is imported. Good quality Welsh honey is always in short supply, and sells well at
farmers’ markets and local shows and at the farm gate.
Added value products include preserves and pickles using honey, and beeswax candles, polish, and cosmetics.
A functional colony of bees consists of three types of bee: a queen bee, worker bees and, at certain times of the year,
drones. The social organisation of honeybees means that they act collectively to maintain and support the colony and to
lay down stores of honey and pollen to sustain it during the winter months. It is this ability which distinguishes the
honeybee from other species of bee and which makes it of interest to the beekeeper.
Swarming is how bees increase their numbers. In May or June the bees will feed one or more worker larvae with royal
jelly, to produce a young queen. The old queen will then leave the hive with about half the population of bees, to set up
a new home in an empty hive, a hollow tree or in the roof of a building.
The young queen in the original hive will mate in the air with several flying drones and will then return to her hive and
start to lay eggs. One colony has become two colonies. Sometimes, where more than one new queen is hatched, the
colony continues to split into smaller ‘casts’, thus making three, four or even more new colonies.
Try to use bees from your own locality. They will be acclimatised to the vagaries of the weather in your area. Imported
queen bees may carry exotic diseases, and they may not be resistant to disea