Sandgate Community Garden: Update 13 September 2020

Below is a summary from Ray, our resident beekeeper, of the two hives we have in the Community Garden.

“A memorable year! As for the bees in the SAGA garden – a good year now comprising of 2 new honeybee colonies, a new local beekeeper now with a colony (Chris) but not one that has yielded any honey from our garden!

In summary – a small colony overwintered in Whittersham near Rye and right near the lead singer of Keane’s abode made its way to the SAGA garden in March this year.  The colony was poorly & needed to build in numbers to fill the main box where the queen resides which called the brood box.  This colony was rescued from a field over in Lenham in March 2019 and has been building nicely through the season and has filled the main brood box nicely and with the same queen. 

An additional colony was introduced in May of a package of imported bees from Tuscany, Italy.  SO, bring on the honey one may ask! 

At this point – it is worth highlighting the fact that the beekeeper’s role is limited to the quantity of making honey produced.  In short – bees produce honey for their survival and make surplus honey for the winter of which some can be extracted for sale as we know it. 

Now back to the garden – both colonies have been busy foraging locally and are currently busy with the main last forage of the season which is ivy.

The new colony arrived with a Buckfast mated queen from Tuscany and so the colony was set to go from strength to strength and stock of jars checked in June.  The bees collectively have a plan which on occasions differs from the plan of the beekeeper!  The indication being that the Buckfast bees were not happy with their queen and were making signs that meant that she would be replaced by them.  This is called supercedure and occurs with aged queens, poorly mated or damaged queens.  It ensures that a healthy queen head-up the colony by producing new cells that will produce a new queen – in fact two queens can happily cohabite in this case or swarm.  They chose the option to swarm but left us with a new queen cell which has subsequently hatched and is now busy laying eggs to become the winter workforce.  The colony has recovered nicely from this diversion and so back on track but not sufficiently to fill the honey jars ready at the CT20 bee-base!.

Both are being checked for required winter honey stores and treatment of varroa mite where seen necessary.

So, the aim has been achieved to end this beekeeping year with 2 healthy colonies in the SAGA garden site and strong enough to hopefully ensure our winter period and plan to get off to a bright 2021.

Chris has greatly enhanced her knowledge this season and with a little encouragement now a wonderful colony of Buckfast bees in a Beehause hive which has developed well and ready for the 2021 season.

Thank you from the SAGA Community Bee Team… we’ll BEE in touch!”


We really appreciate having the bees resident in the garden as it just seems to make it complete. 

Below are some photographs taken by Ray of the bees foraging.