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New Vic moves thriving airbee-n-bee business

Who would ever have guessed that the New Vic@Tisbury was running a thriving bee-joux hotel business during lockdown? Well, it’s true, the rafters have been buzzing with the to-ings and fro-ings of 70,000 honey-making, apian customers here for the village’s ‘amber nectar’.

But with planned roof and building works at the New Vic this summer, the management team were eager to rehome the bees, if only someone would accept the daunting and painful challenge which only the bravest of Tisbury’s brave would accept. Enter, super bee-vangelist Robert Whittick and his free honey bee swarm collection and re-homing service, who keeps bees in managed apiaries around the village.

A crucial part of the rescue mission, was spotting and capturing the queen bee, upon whom the survival of the other bees depended. Without her, the Anglo-Italian colony would be dead within weeks. With the scaffolding up, Rob was able to access the roof eaves and, using a thermal imaging camera, locate the mixed native European black and Italian Buckfast bee colony nested between the roof and the front apex of the Victoria Hall.

“We removed the slats and felt around the hive but didn’t disturb the centre of it where the queen was likely to be,” he explains. “Then we very carefully removed the honeycomb shaking the bees into the box, including the queen.”

It took the better part of a day to attract the rest bees into the box, using the scent of the queen bee to lure them in. The bees then spent the day removing the wax and comb from their old home and into the box where they began building a new colony with the old queen.

“The bees are now under the lime trees at Hatch House, and producing lime honey which is slightly green and citrussy and really nice,” says Rob who was stung 15 times during the mission. “Yes, it hurts but I don’t mind it, it’s part of the job! They are actually very sweet, gentle bees.”

Rob has since processed the New Vic bees’ rare and exquisite honey which is un-bee-lievably good!

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