Bees come to Southill Solar

Southill Solar installs the UK’s first thermosolar beehive – which uses sunlight to protect bees against the Varroa mite.

On Sat 3 June, Southill Solar is proud to welcome our new resident colony of bees. The bees are an important part of our biodiversity plans. We’re using wildflower meadows and seed-rich planting to make the Southill Solar site a haven for all manner of birds, insects and mammals.

What’s more, Southill Solar’s bees will live in a thermosolar beehive – the first one to be installed in the UK.

The buzz about the thermosolar hive

The thermosolar hive uses solar power to kill parasitic Varroa mites.

It works by raising the temperature of the hive’s brood nest to 47 degrees C. At this temperature, the mites are killed off but the bees remain unharmed.

This is a step-change in the way that beekeepers can treat their bees against the Varroa mite – without using chemicals, pesticides or harming the bees.

Bees need all the help they can get

Tom Worlsey, Southill Solar’s new beekeeper, says, ““Right now, more than ever, bees need our help to survive. What is good for the bees, is good for all of us”.

Our bee populations are under constant attack from parasites, disease, and agricultural pesticides. The Varroa mite is an endemic parasite present in all bee colonies. Varroa transmit many of the diseases that affect the health of our bees.

Until now, beekeepers have used a variety of pesticides or chemical treatments to try and kill off the parasites. However none of these treatments are 100% effective, and none are particularly kind to the bees. The treatments often kill off many of the bees, as well as the mites. Varroa mites have developed resistance to many of the treatments, and the chemicals used can also contaminate the honey if not applied correctly.

The thermosolar hive has the potential to do great good.

What’s next for Southill Solar’s bees?

Tom thinks the hive will produce about 15-20 kg of honey in its first season, and maybe double that in future years.

So watch this space for some wonderful, community-owned, solar-powered, ethical AND pioneering honey to spread on your toast.

Come and meet Tom!  He will be at Charlbury’s Riverside Festival (29 and 30 July) to talk about Southill Solar’s hives, and bees in general. Come down and say hello to Tom and the Southill Solar team there.