Regional difference

Oct 28, 2019 · Byron Williams

Most of my hives are in Wiltshire, right at the top and right down to the bottom, about 50 miles from eachother. After looking at 2 apiaries I was reminded just how much variation there can be.

Wickwar

The apiary in Wickwar is well protected from the prevailing wind, it’s in an orchard near an ancient protected forest. The bees produce a large blossom crop, do very little over summer as mainly cereal crops are grown or livestock, then fill boxes with ivy honey in the autumn.

This year the quantity of ivy honey that has been collected has been outstanding, but this is due to timing. It is well known that ivy starts to flower in September through to the beginning of November. This year I had boxes on at the right time and have caught the flow, about 30kg in total. However I mis-timed my collection of the honey as I’ve been away and now have 30kg of crystalising ivy honey. I will use this for Nucs next year.

Semley

Semley is surrounded by meadows, hectares and hectares of meadows. Little streams border my apiary and trees can be seen on the crest of the hills. Spring is slow and very little flows in until early summer when the meadows are in full bloom.

I couldn’t tell you what flowers the bees visit in Semley, I can only assume it is true wildflower honey. It takes a very long time to crystalise, it often has a very low water content of ~14.2%.

But that’s it. Once that crop has has been collected the bees pull very little else in during the course of the year. These colonies have brought in very little ivy nectar, only very small patches, probably totalling < 2kg between them.

Bath

Lime is the most distinctive component of Bath honey and most years a good crop can be achieved so long as temperatures go past 23°C. Being a city, my hives in Bath have always outperformed other apiaries for 2 reasons: it’s closer and I can attend to it more and it has an incredible diversity of flora throughout the season.

Spring brings snowdrops, there are plenty of orchards and blooming trees, OSR is often grown on the periphery of town. The varying planting in parks, gardens, woodland and hedges provides a long season of both pollen and nectar.

As Bath’s south side is covered with trees it is home to plenty of ivy. So the bees will still be bringing pollen and nectar up until the beginning of November. I’ve never had to feed any colony in Bath.