FRAME-MAKING WITH BERMONDSEY STREET BEES
Photograph by Paul Grand
There’s something so magical about Bermondsey Street. It’s been my home now for the last seven and a half years, yet still, when I walk down the street there’s always something exciting to discover. In fact, until recently, I hadn’t realised that there were eight beehives perched on one of the rooftops there.
Since meeting Dale Gibson, keeper of the Bermondsey Street Bees, and his lovely wife Sarah who has recently penned a beautifully illustrated guide to Planting for Honey Bees (out soon!), my eyes have been opened to the world of sustainable bee-keeping.
The bees will be tucked up in their hives – as they won’t fly until the temperature outside is 10 degrees or above – and very little can be done to the hives until the weather reaches a balmy 14 degrees whereupon they can be given their first post-winter inspection.
This means it’s the ideal time for things like ‘frame-making’.
Dale thinks I might find frame-making boring as it’s fairly repetitive and not a particularly technical challenge, but knowing that I’m contributing to something much bigger is quite exciting.
These frames come as a pre-cut kit. You nail the majority of the frame together, slide in a sheet of wax foundation and then finish it off with a little more wood and a couple more nails. Luckily Dale explained it much better than that and had me putting them together fairly quickly.
But what are they for?
A typical hive might look something like this:
The frames we are making will go into the ‘Honey Super’. These supers won’t be added to the hive until later in the spring / summer once the ‘Brood Box’ (where the Queen lives and lays her eggs) is established and carries enough food to sustain them through the next winter. But once that has been taken care of, the bees will start producing wax and honey in the Super frames that we’re making, and it’s from here, not the brood box, that the honey will be harvested in August.
Photograph by Hung Quach, Jet & Indigo
This just scratches the surface of what goes on in the day to day life of a bee-keeper.
In addition to his own hives on Bermondsey Street, Dale looks after a further fifty hives in and around London from One Tower Bridge to Lambeth Palace, and, as responsible bee farmers they also work tirelessly with local government, businesses and community groups to sponsor, maintain and educate around sustainable planting initiatives … enhancing urban environments for people and bees alike, always ensuring there is enough forage for their bees.
If you’d like to find out more about Bermondsey Street Bees, check out this brilliant video with Michel Roux Jr.
And if you’d like to taste their delicious raw honey, pop down to their stall at the Hiver Beers Arch on Maltby street where you can find them every Saturday.
If you’re taking on my monthly making challenge this year, I’d love to know what you got started with. Tag images of what you’ve made using the hashtag #mollyandthewolf and tag us @mollyandthewolf so that I can see!