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May 2023 – New King and Queens

Well what a busy term we have had! We have seen sunshine, swarms, new queens and a new King!

Our colonies have thrived over winter and it is lovely to see the bees flying daily, bringing back pollen and nectar from the hundreds of dandelions we have around school, and not forgetting all the other flowers and trees that are blooming now. The air is full of the sweet smell of the Hawthorn and the buzz of the bees sounds wonderful.

Our time is now dedicated to raising new queens and keeping an eye on swarming and expansion.

We celebrated the coronation of King Charles III, and our children took great delight in ‘telling the bees’ that we have a new King. A gentle knock on the front of the hive followed by the children shouting ‘We have a new King’ ensured the bees were aware of the good news.


The children have spent their outdoor learning days inspecting the bees, catching swarms and getting ready for the breeding season ahead. It has been a busy time I can tell you!

Checks on our colonies have shown that our bees have done well over winter.  We had a small amount of chalkbrood in a couple of our colonies in our long hive, but this has soon cleared up.  It gave our children the opportunity to talk about disease and illness of both adult bees and brood.  It is important that our bees are healthy and that the children can spot any signs of disease.

We haven’t escaped the swarming season!  We had two of our colonies swarm into our ‘swarm tree’.  I’m not sure what it is about this particular tree, but the bees seem to like it year after year. The children pondered on how we were going to catch it, and definitely concluded that we needed a ladder. No job too small for the Ashbrow Team, and before you could say ‘A swarm of bees in May’ … we had it safely caught in a skep.


We also had a visit from the BBC this month. Our Year 5 children were TV reporters for the day, and were filmed by the CBBC Newsround team for a piece they were producing for World Bee Day. Don’t forget to watch this on 'Catch Up' if you’ve not already seen it.


We now turn our attention to raising new queens and making up nucleus colonies ready for sale.  We have a lovely breeder queen who displays all the characteristics that we want, especially for school… quiet on the comb, gentle to handle, good foragers and disease resistant to name but a few.

The children have been building and preparing the Apideas and loved putting the parts together.  “It’s like building Lego!” one child said. 


Our breeder queen was placed in the Cupkit cassette yesterday and we await the sign of her laying now.  Our raiser colony is ready to receive the larvae, so all we can do now is cross our fingers and hope that we have a successful breeding season. 

We will keep you updated with our bee breeding journey and hopefully in our next report will be able to show you our new queens. 

Till next time … Happy Beekeeping!!

Photos:  Ashbrow School