How time flies – it was a year ago that the team from The London Bee Company raised £3,225 from 55 backers to help them establish more colonies of urban bees. Read on to find out what’s been happening, and about their beautiful honey products!
We ran the Bee Happy Crowdfunder campaign a year ago – the support was really great and we really appreciated the assistance from all our backers. Since then, the project has come a long way and we’re looking forward to a productive 2015.
As the campaign ran towards the end of the season, we only managed to start with 2 colonies in September 2013, but they were successfully overwintered and were rearing to go in spring, thanks to the great weather we’ve had this year.
The strategy was to buy a few nucleus colonies (nucs) and start building them up, hopefully catch a few swarms keeping them in quarantine until they were confirmed to be disease free, and also create a few splits if we had some strong colonies with the capacity to do so.
Where bee you now?
We have managed to establish 19 colonies over 2 apiary sites, all looking strong. They are a combination of British Black Bees, Carniolan and Buckfast Bees. Hopefully they will be good producers next year if we have good weather.
We are now in the process of establishing a third apiary site to help expand the operation next year, with the intention of establishing a further 20 to 25 new colonies, using our existing bees as breeding stock bringing our total number of production hives to 40 or 50. The plan is also to establish a 10 colony dedicated brood factory to help support weaker colonies, queen rearing and nucleus production which we can offer to individuals who would like to obtain honey bees.
Obviously this has meant we needed a huge amount of equipment and tools, and the help received from the Crowdfunder campaign went a long way in helping to establish the first few colonies. Over the season as we have continued to expand and have purchased additional equipment ready for next year. We have also purchased our own electric honey extractor which will be invaluable in the extraction process.
When can I buy some honey?
A few of the colonies we managed to establish early in the season have been able to to produce some surplus honey, and the harvesting of this year’s honey has been completed after ensuring the bees have an adequate supply for themselves. We have decided to leave more honey on the colonies this year hoping we will not need to feed emergency sugar to them, although it is difficult to predict how the winter will go. In the meanwhile, we will be bottling and labelling up the bounty and get the rewards out to our backers very soon.
We have had a constant stream of enquiries about bee products and it is only logical that, as an additional enterprise, we are using the surplus beeswax produced to make polishes for both wood and leather, and hopefully we will diversify into some other products too. These are currently being updated in our online shop (http://www.thelondonbeecompany.com), and will be available to purchase soon.
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