We are thrilled to have ordered a new bumblebee hive before the season is over!
Unlike the Koppert solution, which is mainly an industrial solution marketed and sold to farmers and growers, the Beepol system is very much more aimed at the home gardener and bumblebee enthusiast. (Sadly this is also reflected in the pricing with retail prices being higher than trade prices and the involvement of the retail "middle man")
The main hive is very much like the Koppert system, with a plastic inner nest and outer cardboard box. It is slightly less industrialised than the Koppert box, which means there are pros and cons. Pros: it contains a clear lid for viewing, which the Koppert box doesn't (so no cutting through the lid to insert a camera!) Cons: the open/close of the bee entrance is more fiddly, involving a foam bung and string. On the Koppert box this is done with a clever built-in plastic slider.
In most other respects, though, the boxes are extremely similar, with similar performance. The life of the Koppert box is stated as 10 - 12 weeks at upto 50 bees, but less accurate data is provided for the Beepol box, saying it might last anything from 8 weeks to "the whole season" (march - september) and ships with a Queen and 30 - 40 bees. At this stage we'd be hoping we can get 6 - 8 weeks life from it into September.
The nice thing about the Beepol system, again differentiating it from the more industrialised Koppert solution, is it has a matching wooden "lodge" to house the hive while it is active. This is something the Koppert system does not include and why I had to go about building a whole shelter system to protect our Koppert box in the garden. (When a farmer uses it, they just stick it in the field on a palette with some polystyrene over the top).
The lodge is a lovely, reusable home for the hive, that is attractive to have in the garden and allows easy access via a hinged lid. The other great feature is room to install a video camera inside (WOOT!) that will look down through the clean plastic hive lid. This is just perfect for the 4-camera set up we have. I will fix another camera onto the front of the box to observe the entrance.
The major, major concern at this stage now is how to control the wax moth that we know we have in the garden and have now learnt of the existence of our previous bees. We will have to take every precaution possible. This will include some DIY advice from Beepol about using paintbrush bristles taped to the lodge entrance/exits to provide a screen that the moths do not have the strength to push through. I'll be honest, I'm a little concerned that this heath robinson approach might not work well as it will be hard to determine what is ok for the bees, but not ok for the moth. However, at the moment Beepol say they are working on a productised solution and the DIY option is the best there is for now.
With that in mind, we have also ordered B401 Certan. This is a biological preparation that is harmless to bees, humans and honey, but will defend against the wax moth. We will spray the lodge and hive with a Certan solution. We will also seal all vents with tight webbing (which we used on our other nestboxes to prevent ant intrusion) so that there are no secret holes for moths to enter.
As with the Koppert Box we will also take precaution against ants by mounting the lodge on greased bricks. We will also have to monitor closely in the high winds we can experience in the Fens - this is why my shelter for the Koppert box was so robust, but also led to us not really examining the box once it was all in place. We will be more vigilant with this one.
All in all, it's quite a concern, but we will learn a lot and be able to share it with the bumblebee-loving community.
Can't wait to get our new bees!
Based on traditional bee hive designs, the Beepol Lodge has been hand crafted in the UK from durable timber grown on FSC plantations.
Bumblebee colonies do not continue through the winter in the same way as honeybees do, so each year a fresh new Beepol garden hive can be purchased and placed within the lodge, ensuring every summer you can enjoy the sight and sounds of British Bumblebees hard at work in your garden, grounds or golf course.
The Beepol Lodge contains one Beepol garden hive, which can be replaced with a new one when the hive comes to the end of its life and the new queen bumblebees have dispersed. It has a hinged roof for access and for viewing the Bumblebee colony within.
The Lodge has exit and entrance holes designed for the particular size and shape of Bumblebees and even a landing ledge for them to rest on, as they come back to the hive with heavy loads of pollen.
Each Lodge incorporates wooden legs to keep the hive off the ground and has an option for attaching a mini wildlife camera, so you can see your bees at work from the comfort of your home or office.
The Beepol Lodge is the ultimate wildlife feature for your garden, grounds or golf course, providing a fascinating permanent place of residence for your very own Bumblebee colony every summer.