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Dad and I tend to our native Irish honeybee colonies togther, situated in Co. Down Northern Ireland within the most beautiful, lush, green countryside.
We like to think of ourselves as Bee-Friends rather than Bee-Keepers!
Why?.. well we do not inhibit their natural behaviour in order to get more honey. We only remove the extra honey from the hives in Autumn, and we only take the honey that is above the brood nest which we need to do to make sure they do not overwork themselves keeping the colony warm through the cold months.
FUN FACT: Did you know honeybees in the winter cluster together and vibrate their bodies in order to keep the broodnest at a constant tempreture of between 32-35 celcius? The bigger the space the harder they work which is why we remove the honey above.
Every drop is used in my creams, balms & soaps.
Swarming season (sounds scary, but its not) happens around May time for the honeybee... this is when 1 honeybee colony splits ....and half (or thereabouts) leaves with the Queen and finds a new place to live... 1 becomes 2.. like an acorn falling from an Oak tree. This can cause issues for a Bee-Keeper who is counting on honey to sell as when the numbers of worker bees in the hive diminish so does the amount of nectar they can collect.... well as we are not fussed about getting lots of honey we do not need to worry about that!... and instead look at a hive swarming as potential for a new feral colony evolving to help the local eco-system (where its safe). We also get a lot of telephone calls from people who have got a swarm resting in their gardens and in this case we attend and attempt to take the swarm away in order to keep people safe.
FUN FACT: The hive is made up of almost all women... LOTS of worker bees (female), 1 Queen (female) and Drones (male) but only in the spring & summer when they are required.
The Queen can lay 2 types of eggs, a fertilsed egg (female larvae), and an unfertilised egg (male larvae). The worker bees decide which egg she should lay by drawing out comb in different sizes, the female egg is the normal size... and the male egg is bigger (only in spring & summer remember) ! The Queen knows which to lay by measuring the width before she places the egg in the cell... so you see the Queen isn't in charge.. the workers are!!
Bee Haven Bodycare & Gifts started in 2018 when I began on journey to clear my ance (naturally).. in its inception it was a skin balm and a lip butter but it has grown into so much more! And in true family style I have my daughter Brooke roped in to help, she now takes charge of the production administration, of which there is plenty to ensure we comply with EU & UK cosmetic laws.
Looking forward we hope to run more Bee Awareness events where we bring our observation hive into the public setting and give people a glimpse inside the hive (safely).
Thank you for taking the time to learn about our story.....which has really only begun...