NEW queen bees have made the hives at a business park buzz again.

Rain earlier in the year led to three of the honeybee colonies in the grounds of Howbery Business Park, Wallingford, perishing.

But with new queen bees recently introduced, the hives are making honey once again.

The bees are a major part of the business park’s commitment to biodiversity and sustainability and it is in their interest to see these bee colonies thrive.

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Beekeeper Robin Sergi from Nurture Landscapes, a company which looks after grounds and bees, was at hand to help.

Mr Sergi decided to repopulate the empty hives using the surviving colony of bees and an artificial swarming technique.

He did this by splitting the colony between two hives, so that one colony found itself without a queen, prompting its worker bees to develop a new one.

He then followed a process of selecting a number of viable eggs and nurse bees then feed the larvae a diet richer in royal jelly than that of the other worker larvae.

This process takes more than 16 days to produce an adult queen.

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The same process was then repeated to create a third queen bee from the surviving Howbery colony.

Mr Sergi created a fourth colony from his own bees in the New Forest, which he then moved with a colony to Howbery.

He said: “I’ve never tried to do this before, so I was thrilled to find that it had worked and that we had new queens in the hives.

“It is often seen as easier and quicker to buy in a new queen with colony, rather than develop a new queen from your own stock.”

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“We are just hoping now that the bees can make sufficient honey in the remaining months to help them survive the winter."

He added: "We won’t be able to remove much honey from the hives to sell this year – we have extracted a small amount from the surviving colony.”

Since 2016 the business park bees have produced around 70 jars of honey.

Estates manager Donna Bowles said: “We are so pleased that Robin has managed to develop new queen bees, and that our hives are thriving again.

"Our community has really embraced the honeybees since they have arrived – our bee-related events are always extremely popular.

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“This year, Howbery Business Park is also championing bumblebees as part of its commitment to support biodiversity.”

It is not just Howbery Business Park’s hives that are buzzing with life: Oxfordshire based-British Honey Co recently signed an agreement with Cottisford Limited to set up and run a new distillery in the grounds of the Tusmore Park Estate near Bicester.

Together the businesses aim to develop a premium whisky brand.

British Honey Co currently produces over four tonnes of British honey per year from its 150 beehives, of which 120 are operated under licence from Cottisford at the Tusmore Park Estate.

Part of the development will include the installation of a honey extraction plant where Tusmore honey will be processed before packing by British Honey Co.