Mark Ohrenberger
Mark Ohrenberger

The bees have returned to Taylor-Bray Farm. Of course bees seem always to be around but now, through the efforts of one of our dedicated volunteers, a hive is being maintained at the farm. Mark Ohrenberger moved his hive from his home in Yarmouth Port to the farm early in 2020 and installed a new package of bees in the spring. Mark is a member of the Barnstable County Beekeepers Association.

The beehive is another element of Taylor-Bray Farm for visitors to enjoy. The hive is located along the marsh near the blueberry patch. During the spring and summer, look for it as you walk the farm property. Watch for the bees flying in and out of the hive. If you look closely, but not too closely, you will see bees with full sacks of pollen on their legs.

When visiting the hive, should you hear a loud buzzing near the hive, the colony may be dividing. Please notify someone at the farm immediately. We want to save the split colony so we can start another hive. 

Hanging out to cool off. The hive gets too hot so the bees fan to inside of the hive and congregate outside to cool off, oftentimes referred to as “bearding”

The package of bees consisted of a queen and about ten thousand bees.  The queen is in a separate compartment within the larger box of bees and is set in the hive so the bees can acclimate to her scent. It takes a few days for the bees to work their way into releasing the queen. While this is happening the worker bees are busy making the hive ready for the queen to lay eggs by building out honeycomb for them and for storing honey. A queen can lay up to 1,500 eggs per day, so the bees are busy preparing the hive. In an established hive, the drones will inseminate the queen’s eggs and the female worker bees will tend to the queen and juvenile bees, gather pollen, clean and maintain the honeycomb.

Our bees are helping pollinate the farm’s plants and trees including the blueberry patch, pumpkin patch and the community garden. Farm neighbors also benefit as all the other trees and plants in the area are pollinated.

Bees are the single most critical element of the ecosystem as they are the primary source of pollination of more than 75% of plants worldwide and over 35% of our food crop. Simply put, without bees, we as a species would likely not survive.

A typical range for collecting pollen and nectar is roughly three miles. The bees will convert these raw materials to among other things, honey, and store it for the sustenance of the colony. We hope the colony will produce enough honey to harvest in late summer for the farm store.

Sugar bricks provide source of energy during the winter when regular sources are not available
Hay bales provide extra insulation for the hive to protect it from the Black Flats Marsh elements

Winter is a critical time for the survival of a beehive in New England. The bees concentrate all their energy into keeping the queen and hive colony warm and fed throughout the long cold season. Honey that has been stored within the hive is their primary source of food and is supplemented with sugar bricks. The bricks are made by mixing water and sugar and are set atop of the hive colony for the bees to eat.

The colony surrounds the queen in the upper center of the hive continuously generating heat for the hive. At the Bray Farm hive we took an additional step by placing hay bales around the outside of the hive to help provide insulation from the cold and wind. We hope they give the colony extra protection.

When you visit, please stay well clear of the hive
Do not stand close to the front of the hive opening
Most of all, do not get stung

Taylor-Bray Farm Preservation Association
P.O. Box 66
108 Bray Farm Road North
Yarmouth Port, MA 02675