After an absence of over 500 years, earlier in 2018, we were delighted to introduce honey bees back to Lindores Abbey with 6 hives being set up by the Holy Burn.
As custodians of Lindores Abbey, we have made a very sincere commitment to protect this important landmark for future generations and the aim of our Preservation Society is to see Lindores Abbey flourish again as a site for research, learning, brewing, distilling, horticulture, and beekeeping.
History of beekeeping at Lindores
The Tironensian monks that lived and worked here were well regarded for their horticultural and medicinal skills. and when they first arrived at Lindores, the land on which the Abbey was built and all of the land around it had to be tamed and then properly cultivated. The massive orchards that sprung up around the Abbey covered over 30 acres and were the largest in Scotland, growing apples, pears and plums. We also know they kept bees in straw skeps for honey and wax production.
So in 2018, after lots of research and consultation, we took delivery from British Beefeeds of 3 hives and 4 nucs of bees, with a mix of Scottish native and Carnolian bee colonies, which will provide honey and wax in the future for the distillery. We may actually use it in drinks, tinctures and our catering, or may use it for candle making. The Distillery bees will be kept in modern hives as Skeps have many drawbacks and not in keeping with today’s management practises.
The bees have been settling in well and The Apiary, managed by Douglas Bell, will become an integral part of the visitor experience. However, Douglas is not the only member of staff who has become entranced by our new residents.
Charley is the 17 year old niece of the current Custodian of Lindores Abbey, Drew McKenzie Smith, and is now the latest beekeeper in a long line of beekeepers! Charley has been working at the distillery part time for just over a year now and is studying Advanced Biology, Chemistry and Statistics at school, as well as doing a Science Baccalaureate on the honey bees at Lindores.
She became the latest beekeeper after showing so much enthusiasm and passion in the bees, that head beekeeper Douglas asked her to join the Bee Team. Since then, she comes out once a week to take care of every bee need.
Charley is going to keep us all updated on the bees and we will post regular updates on how they are getting on.
20/08/2018: Currently all of our hives are looking very healthy. Each hive, except hive number 7 with our very angry Queen, has been given some medication for the Varroa Mite to ensure that they stay healthy. In the upcoming weeks the bees will be getting some special sugar feeders to help them get through the winter and will be receiving some extra protection, in the form of mouse excluders, to allow them to better protect the rest of the hive from predators such as Wasps. Our bees now have their own private water sources (A.K.A bright yellow water buckets), with damp cloths and paracord attached to make sure they get the water they need with a reduced risk of drowning. Our hives are still currently building up their honey stores and in the next year we hope to be able to harvest some and get our very first taste to enjoy with everyone.
05/09/2018: Yesterday, Charley fed the bees some liquid syrup. Nectar has been a bit scarce and this is to support them in the coming months, to provide enough food over winter. All the colonies had started eating their own honey stores, which tells us they were hungry. She also applied mouse guards over the entrances to the hives. This allows bees in, but predators such as wasps and mice who are looking for honey cannot squeeze through the mouse guards. At this time of year, the Queen Bee slows down her laying, so the colonies are not overcrowded for winter, and the food they have is enough to live on for the remaining bees. We will be replacing the liquid syrup with fondant in October.
14/09/2018 : We are meeting with Dr Chantel Davies from St Andrews University next week. She is keen to see how she can work with us to enhance our bee offering to a wider market and allow us to support any expansion plans we have for our bees honey and wax, as well as supporting us to spread the word on the importance of bees to the world food economy.
Our bees were all provided with sugar syrup last week, and with the last remnants of nectar getting blown away by recent winds, this will support them over the winter months
To visit the bees for yourself or to visit the distillery and meet the rest of the team see HERE