Time sure flies when you’re keeping bees. It seems like only yesterday this hardworking gang joined our team, and the Oslo office took on beekeeping as a new venture. As a tech company, it’s great to have an off-screen project to mix things up. Here’s the latest buzz on our honorable hires.
Riders on the Swarm
Our bees have been busy bustling about this summer, and our colony has already doubled in size. We now have four beehives on our rooftop minding their own beeswax. This mainly due to a round of swarming, which is the bees’ natural process of reproduction. But as urban beekeepers, we want to avoid swarming. Albeit a beautiful phenomena, swarming can be stressful and sometimes fatal for the bees, and a possible nuisance for our neighbors. We aim to read the bees’ behavior and patterns that lead up to swarming in order to prevent it, and help them relocate to a new hive before it gets overcrowded.
In early June, we noticed a massive cloud of bees escaping one of the hives, and suited up to get onto the scene. Thousands of bees were swirling around while the queen and an amassing number of worker bees started clustering to a nearby fence. They cluster together in wait of the scout bees to stake out a new hive to vacate. We knew we had to move fast, as once the scout bees find a new suitable location to settle into, the entire hive will leave for good. So we placed a cardboard box underneath the cluster and left it there for about an hour and a half, waiting for the queen to drop into it, as the rest of the cluster would follow. We supervised the process carefully, and once the queen and the rest of the cluster had settled safely into the box, we ushered them into a new hive and let them be for a week to build up their new home.
We knew we had to move fast, as once the scout bees find a new suitable location to settle into, the entire hive will leave for good.
The gift that keeps on giving
As a result of this booming enterprise, the honey kept on com(b)ing. In mid September, we arranged a honey slinging party with our friends and families to finalize the product. Honey slinging isn’t as messy as it sounds, it’s simply the procedure of extracting honey from the beehive frames using a turbine. We organized an assembly line of work stations for the different stages of production, from prepping the honeycomb and being on sling duty to labelling jars and our beekeeping suits with B&B merch. In the end, we wound up producing over 1000 jars of honey. Beekeeping is rewarding in itself, but it’s really cool to end up with an edible product at the end of a busy season.
But make no mistake, beekeeping is no walk in the park. It’s a huge responsibility and we aim not only to make it work, but to create the best possible environment for our bees. Beekeeping requires full focus, as do our clients. And we really had our work cut out for us this summer, being back to back with deadlines and having to deal with the swarming at the same time. But thanks to the Swarmtroopers at ByBi, and a massive team effort in the office, we managed to pull through. We learned a lot about beekeeping, but also a lot about ourselves.
Moving onto greener pastures
We realized that we need to be better prepared for next year, and decided to have a Swarmtrooper on standby in case swarming happens again while we are too swamped in the office. We also determined not to expand the colony, but rather focus on the hives we already have and work on improving our routines. But that doesn’t mean we can’t expand the venture as a whole. Our plan is to expand our rooftop terrace, and build a dream garden for both bees and employees.
Making a dreamscape filled with pollinator friendly flowers and plants will not only benefit our own bee colony, but also other visiting pollinators. This way we can contribute as a green lung for the ByBi project Pollinatorpassasjen. The project is a sustainable initiative aimed to improve the living conditions of bees in urban environments. By creating an autostrada with pollinating check points throughout the city, pollinators will have a better chance of keeping the natural flow of things.
By creating an autostrada with pollinating check points throughout the city, pollinators will have a better chance of keeping the natural flow of things.
Our ultimate goal is to scale our venture into facilitating nesting sites for all pollinators. With a lavish garden in place, we can include nesting sites for bumblebees, butterflies and other insects. We want to build insect hotels with small lodging cells that can function both as nesting sites and for hibernation. The cells will be detachable, enabling inspection of the behavior and conditions of the insects. An added bonus is being able to invite school classes or other educational programs to observe and learn about insects.
Needless to say, we’re very excited about our buzzing adventure. We’ve learned a lot this summer, and wrapped up the season with better skills and bigger plans. It’s been a hectic ride, but a lot of fun. Now our honey bees are enjoying a well-earned hibernation, while the rest of the B&B’ers get to reap the benefits of their hard work.