I first started obsessing over the idea of keeping bees while studying computer science at the University of Birmingham. While I should have been attending lectures and doing coursework, I instead spent my time on YouTube watching videos about bees. Fast forward four years, I finally own my own house and I'm in a position where I can actually keep bees. Then, on Friday, January 7th, I decided to finally bite the bullet and commit to becoming a beekeeper in 2022!
It all started by looking for local beekeepers in the Gloucestershire area selling bees where I eventually stumbled across BS Honey Bees. They’re a supplier about 20 minutes away and they have still have some overwintered nucs for sale, fantastic!
What is an overwintered nuc?
An overwintered nuc (nucleus colony) is a small honeybee colony consisting of a queen, workers and brood that has been kept alive through the winter months. The benefits of having an overwintered nuc include:
- Stronger colony: A colony that has survived the winter will typically be stronger and better able to build up and produce honey in the spring.
- Early start: An overwintered nuc can start producing honey earlier in the season compared to starting from scratch with a new colony. This increases the chances of having a good honey harvest in your first year.
- Reduced cost: Overwintered nucs are typically less expensive than starting a new colony from scratch, as the initial cost of purchasing and installing a new queen is avoided.
- Increased reliability: Overwintered nucs have a higher survival rate compared to colonies established in the spring, which reduces the risk of colony failure.
Along with the above, another reason I wanted to go down the overwintered nuc approach was to do with genetics. I have a fairly small garden and therefore would be in close proximity to the bees on a daily basis and would also have neighbours either side of me. I wanted to have a breed of bee that I could have some degree of confidence that they wouldn’t be aggressive. If I had gone down the (cheaper) approach of waiting for a swarm, not only would I have to wait a long time and would be unlikely to have a harvest in my first year, I would also be more likely to deal with wild genetics. With this in mind, I wanted to go for a Buckfast honey bee.
What are ‘Buckfast honey bees’?
A Buckfast honey bee is a hybrid bee breed developed by Brother Adam, a monk at Buckfast Abbey in Devon, England, in the early 20th century. It is known for its gentle nature, good honey production, and strong resistance to diseases such as Varroa mites.
Ordering my Bees
So, as of Friday the 7th January at 9am, I’ve pre-ordered my nucleus of bees for collection in April. For 2022, the cost of this is £290, a deposit of £90 and the £200 on the provisional collection date of 22nd April 2022.
Once the bees have been collected, expect to see lots of content on here and also on the Bountiful Bees YouTube channel. I’m planning to produce content throughout the year and document my first year as a beekeeper in 2022!