Category Archives: News

What’s new & interesting at Johnny’s Garden and in the world at large

Queen bee colour coded marking

Around the world apiculturists (beekeepers) employ a series of colour codes to identify queen bees and indicate their age. One method is to apply a dot of harmless quick-drying paint to the thorax of the bee so that it stands out within the hive’s population.

Another, more recent, method is to use plastic/aluminium disks, readily available in queen marking kits, attached using a special non-toxic glue. The disks are either blank – solid colour only – or numbered. These 2-digit numbers are used for stock control where there are many new queens being reared.

Here’s a quick and handy guide to identifying your queen:

International Queen Marking Color Code
Colour Last digit of year Example
White 1 or 6 2011
Yellow 2 or 7 2012
Red 3 or 8 2013
Green 4 or 9 2014
Blue 5 or 0 2015

About Johnny's Garden

Johnny’s Garden came about almost by accident. I was talking with Michael, telling him about my plan to build a few hives and keep bees with the hope of having an additional source of income when my wife and I move over to Hungary. We are looking to be as self-sufficient as possible, as environmentally-sensitive as possible … as ecologically sound and low-impact as possible.

We’ll be growing our own vegetables and fruit, raising animals to sell and eat, harvesting rainwater, conserving everything we can. We want to buy from shops as little as possible. In keeping with this aim I wondered about substituting honey in place of processed sugar. Not that we use a lot of sugar now however we DO use it.

So … bee-keeping. Gathering the honey. And bees need help – it’s GOOD for the bees, the environment, for US. I envisaged placing a few hives, maybe 5, in and around our fruit trees. The trees need to be pollinated. The bees would do that. Honey, and fruit. And happy bees. It couldn’t be better. Could it?

So, anyway, I am talking with Michael about this and we’re bouncing around some ideas. I could have more hives, export the honey to Scotland, he’d sell it. Income for both of us. Great idea. Something for the future – you see we will be getting to Hungary in 2012. This is the schedule, the plan.

A week passed. Then Michael phoned … “we should just do it now”. Do “what”? “Keep bees”. Bee-keeping. Now. Here. It was such a logical progression I’m surprised I hadn’t seen it. So we got to work. Talking, planning, writing, learning. We had visions, ideas. Some idealistic, some not. How could we revive the bees? How could we ensure their survival? Not really with 5 hives. We’d have to think bigger. Beyond our two selves.

We devised our Adopt A Hive program. Have people who want to help bees but can’t (no time, no space, no knowledge) sponsor, Adopt bees that we, Johnny’s Garden, keep. These Adopters would receive a share of the hive’s produce and we’d have sufficient funds to continue our work. We could place more hives, create more bee colonies. If that’s not good, what is?

We had lots to do. We had to secure plots of land for hives to be placed. And we had to build the hives. All this time I’d been reading and learning about bees and bee-keeping. I had a vision of how I’d like to do it. And this vision was realised in “natural bee-keeping”. Using hives designed by Robert Kerr, of Stewarton, Ayrshire, in 1819, and Abbé Émile Warré in the late 1800’s we could encourage a more natural, sustainable way for keeping bees.

These hives, the “peoples’ hives”, require less work than National – the most common type of hive used in Britain today – hives. Bees kept in Stewarton/Warré-style hives are calmer, less stressed, less likely to swarm and more likely to fight off varoa mite and other bee diseases. While the Warré-style hive yields a lower volume of honey, when compared with a framed-type hive, the benefits for bee and bee-keeper are evident and worthwhile -calmer, healthier, less stressed bees.

In addition to the natural, sustainable nature of the bee-keeping the construction of these type of hives could be undertaken by us using reclaimed wood. If that’s not good, what is? We could help bees and the environment by re-using wood that’s already been cut. Wood which would otherwise be thrown away. Wood that would require money and resources to be spent in it’s disposal … old shipping pallets.

So. We have Johnny’s Garden. We’re moving quickly. We’ve made some land deals that will allow us to expand, securing our future for some time. We have a source for reclaimed wood and we have a skilled carpenter to help us make the hives to meet the demand. We have partners in place with more on the way. And we have Adopters. Not many right now however they’re coming. So why not become a key part in the Revival+Survival of bees.

This is the key to OUR survival. get on board.