Here at Waltons we’ve always had a soft spot for bees because our founder was a beekeeper. Now that our champion pollinators are under threat from pollution, parasites and pesticides, it’s more vital than ever to care for our busy friends.
That’s where beekeepers come in. By nurturing their hives, they’re doing us all, and nature a big favour – and by blogging about it, they help to educate and inform the rest of us.
Here we’ve combed the internet to bring you a selection of the best bee blogs we’ve found – online reading that’ll leave you buzzing.
Adventures in Bee land Blog
Ever wondered how to prepare a beehive for winter? West-London beekeeper, Emily Heath, insulates her hives with silver foil thermal sheets and says the key to your bees’ winter survival is to minimise empty space in the hive, which the bees might struggle to heat.
Emily loves the incredible sense of community at her allotment apiary where gardeners recently got together to enjoy some festive mulled wine and mince pies – as she says: “The bees huddle up and eat, and so do we.”
New mum Emily also blogs about babies, cats and camper vans. Expect to discover her warm and informative take on everything from installing mouse guards to taste-testing lemon honey cake for the National Honey Show.
Bees and water don’t normally mix, but beekeeper, Thomas Bickerdike manages a number of hives while cruising the Grand Union Canal in his narrowboat home, the Dovetail. Sticking mainly to the 35 miles of waterways fringing London, Thomas, combines his work as a carpenter with maintaining his hives which are dotted around the West of the city.
Thomas says a lot of the heat-treated runny honey on supermarket shelves is little more than sweet syrup. Instead, he explains that gently warming honey to no more than 40°C retains the maximum health benefits of this ancient food.
Have you ever wondered how to extract the wax from old honeycombs? Check out Thomas’ ingenious solar wax extractor based on an old wheelbarrow. Thomas’ gentle approach to beekeeping is all about partnership with what is, and should remain, a wild insect.
Bermondsey Street Bees
Foraging on London roof terraces as well as treetops, parks, allotments and gardens, Dale Gibson’s urban bees produce the award-winning Bermondsey Street Honey sold at Maltby St Market.
With green space in the city shrinking, Dale says bee-friendly planting is more important than ever. If you’re a city dweller, you might be interested in this handy guide to planting a roof garden bees will love to visit.
Ever wonder how you’d go about moving bee hives? Best read Dale’s account of moving the hives at Lambeth Palace to make way for an architectural dig – it provides a wealth of information for beekeepers and, for the rest of us, is a fascinating window on the beekeeping world.
Dale’s passion for and knowledge of beekeeping shine out in his inspirational posts. He’s also a regular speaker at events such as the London Honey Show and the New York City Beekeepers’ association.
Buzz About Bees
Bee enthusiast, Amanda, started her blog to raise awareness about the plight of our wild bees and she works tirelessly to help conserve these vital insects.
Who knew that elephants are afraid of bees? Or that farmers in Africa use ‘beehive fences’ to keep elephants off farmland and away from crops. Accessible, fun and interesting, Amanda’s blog is a great resource for budding bee enthusiasts young and old.
Chris Slade's Bee Blog
Beekeeper since 1978, Chris Slade’s pioneering thirst for knowledge has seen him take his his approach to his hobby well beyond the traditional. In fact, to give himself a ‘bee’s-eye-view of his hives, Chris recently acquired a drone.
If you don’t know what to do if you find an Asian Hornet queen harassing your bees, Chris has some handy information for you!
And how about a “bee gym” to help reduce the number of Varroa mites in a hive? Positioning two taut pieces of fishing line in the entrance to the hive helps to scrape the mites off bees’ bodies as they squeeze through the narrow gap. Ingenious.
Chris’ warm and friendly style belies a wealth of valuable and practical information, making his blog a favourite with many UK beekeepers.
Girl Meets Bee
What better way to satisfy your honey addiction than by keeping bees? That’s exactly what Warwick-based urban beekeeper Tanya Weaver did. And thanks to her efforts, this young mum is able to start each day with a teaspoon of raw honey which she smears on toast, swirls into porridge, drizzles onto yogurt, spoons into her tea or simply eats straight from the jar!
The tooth-achingly, sticky day that she harvested her own honey for the first time was a glorious moment for Tanya, although she says she was careful to replace the bees’ sugar stocks with a syrup solution.
She cooks with her honey, too, winning the Warwick Bake Off with her ‘Honey and Orange Pound Cake’.
Tanya’s day job as a journalist makes for a beautifully written blog with lots of anecdotal information and photos documenting her successes and failures.
Smoke and Wax
Tucked away in a quiet corner of a sympathetic farmer’s field, ‘Bee-King’ Paul documents his beekeeping journey with plenty of wise advice for anyone trying to get started.
He discusses everything from the best equipment for beginners, to creating a new apiary, with advice on how best to site hives.
Foundationless frames (common practice in the United States) are not widely used in the UK, which makes Paul’s resolution to adopt this technique an interesting experiment.
One of Paul’s goals for the coming year is to rear his own queens. Whether he succeeds or not, his engaging account of his journey is sure to keep readers interested and entertained throughout the coming months.
Talking With Bees
According to folklore, people should confess their troubles and secrets to their bees because it helps establish a strong colony as well as a happy home (and state of mind) for the beekeeper. Which is handy because Gloucestershire beekeeper, Roger says he began keeping bees to protect his sanity.
Roger’s gentle style and his ‘how to guides’ are ideal for anyone hoping to get started. Did you know that the best time of day to hive a swarm of bees is the evening? And that good bee hygiene is essential to prevent disease and pests interfering with your precious colony?
A busy job and two young children mean Roger needs to run an efficient bee operation. Other time-challenged honey cultivators be interested to read his tips for using low maintenance Ross Rounds to produce beautiful results.
Mrs Apis Mellifera
Recently wed, Emma Maund explains that it’s customary to let your bees know if you intend to get married, and to introduce your new spouse shortly afterwards to help guarantee matrimonial bliss.
A born and bred Londoner, Emma posts about bees, nature and aromatherapy. You’ll enjoy following the ups and downs of the Game of Thrones-style drama in the colonies as each new – beautifully named – queen tries to establish a successful hive.
Family is clearly very important to Emma and she often describes how her parents come to share the work, celebrate her success and how, when the work is done, they take time out to enjoy a well-earned piece of cake as the bees busily weave their own epic tales around them.
Some of us eat that sweet, delicious honey as quickly as we can, but Fife based beekeping blogger, David Evans, reminds us that it can last for thousands of years. He tells us that 3,000 year old Egyptian honey was found in the pyramids - and it remains edible!
How do you keep your bees fed in the colder months? Many beekeepers use a syrup solution in the hive for the bees to eat, but David’s discovered that baker’s fondant is a food that bees love, and is easy to manage. It’s got a long shelf life, and any leftover can be dissolved into a revitalising spring feed.
David’s blog is detailed, well-informed, and an incredible resource for any beekeeper or aspiring apiarist. As a research scientist currently studying the viruses that affect honeybees, he certainly knows his stuff. As a beekeeping hobbyist, his knowledge of and love for bees is clear to see in his writing.
Lead image: Diyana Dimitrova/Shutterstock