Beekeeper expects thousands of bees will die after storm blows hives over

James Hamill said: ‘I just have to pray that they pull through.’

22 February 2022

A master beekeeper has said he expects thousands of his honeybees will die after “at least 40” hives were turned upside down by disruptive weather.

Storm Eunice and Storm Franklin battered the UK with destructive winds and rain over the weekend, leaving many businesses and community venues flooded and damaged.

James Hamill, 60, from London represents the fourth generation of beekeepers in a family which has been working in the industry since 1924.

“We’ve got about 80 beehives and at least 40 of them have been turned upside down, the roofs off,” he told the PA news agency.

“I found them exposed – (the) poor bees are sitting there getting rained on.

“I tried to get them righted and in doing so I didn’t have any protective clothes, so I got stung about 30 times – they were going for my neck.

“They didn’t know, it’s not their fault, they’re so disorientated. I just want to keep them alive.”

Mr Hamill set up the Hive Honey Shop in London in 1992 but was forced to take the business online during the pandemic.

The master beekeeper said he keeps his bees around 10 miles out of central London during the winter. On Monday he tweeted a video showing the hives scattered on the floor.

A tweet from the shop’s Twitter account read: “The storm blew over beehives scattered roofs and equipment in various different apiary sites.

“A big disaster and extremely detrimental to the welfare of honeybees.”

Mr Hamill said: “We have so many things that are being thrown at honeybees at the moment, it’s becoming almost impossible to keep the species alive, so we are on a razor’s edge.

“That kind of ferocious thump on top of the beehive shocks them.

“I am imagining it’s going to be thousands of bees dead outside the beehive in the next week, the ones that just use so much energy trying to keep the colony warm and alive.

“They basically have gone into shock. I just have to pray that they pull through.”

The coming weeks and months will require Mr Hamill to repair the damaged infrastructure before taking care of the remaining weakened bees by giving them surplus honey.

Meanwhile, in an effort to help the bees that have been displaced by the stormy weather, the Hive Honey Shop is aiming to run an “adopt a beehive” project, getting the public involved in helping rehome unhoused colonies.

Updates on the scheme will be found at www.thehivehoneyshop.co.uk/.

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