Questions For Fortnum’s

Here is my list of questions for Fortnum’s about its beautiful rooftop bee hives.  If you have any additional questions, please let me know!

  1. What made you decide to keep bees on the roof of Fortnum’s?  Was it hard to convince people that it was a good idea?  When did you first start thinking about it? When were they installed? Are you planning on having more? Do you consider the bees a success?
  2. Were these hives started from packages or nucs, or were they established colonies when they were installed?
  3. Does Fortnum’s have other hives?  Where are they kept?
  4. How did you come up with the design of the hives?  Who built them? Do they build hives for other people?  Are they WBC hives?  Are the plans available?
  5. I read that Fortnum’s keeps Carniolan bees.  Is that still true?  How did you pick Carniolan bees?  Are these the original bees?  Where do you get your bees?
  6. I know Steve Benbow is your beekeeper.  How did you select him? How often does he visit the hives?  Do any Fortnum’s employees work with the hives as well?
  7. Do you have problems with pests or bee diseases?  Any evidence of CCD?  Do you treat your bees with chemicals?
  8. Specifically, have you had problems with Varroa Mites?  How have you dealt with them?  Do you treat for them in any way?
  9. Do you use any kind of preventive treatments or techniques?
  10. What has been the most unexpected challenge of keeping these bees?  What is the biggest problem?  Biggest success?
  11. Have you had any swarms?  What did you do?
  12. Is wind a problem for these bees?  What is their primary pollen/nectar source?
  13. How do you prepare your hives for winter?  Do you bring them inside?  Do you wrap them? Do you use insulation?  Do you use a mouse guard?  Do you feed them? How much honey do you leave for them?
  14. Do you feed your bees at any time?  What do you feed them and when?
  15. Did you have a spring harvest this year?  How much honey did you harvest? What is your average harvest?  Do you use a Queen excluder?  Are you expecting an autumn harvest?
  16. Do you use the Fortnum’s honey in the preparation of any other food?
  17. What was the inspiration for your honey bottle?
  18. Do you use the beeswax for any Fortnum’s product? What do you do with it?
  19. How often do you replace your combs? What technique do you use?
  20. Have you split or combined any of the hives?
  21. Can anyone tour Fortnum’s hives?
  22. There was an article in the June 15 London Evening Standard in which Angela Woods, secretary of the London Beekeeping Association, was quoted as saying London’s bees are under threat of starvation and disease because of a boom in the number of urban beekeepers.  She stated that there was not enough forage in London’s parks and gardens to sustain the growing number of hives. She blames “celebrity beekeepers” and corporations for the problem.  What is your response to that article?

10 thoughts on “Questions For Fortnum’s

  1. oceannah says:

    Well Deborah, that looks like a pretty comprehensive list! I look forward to the feedback. Thank you.

  2. Emily Heath says:

    Well, that should keep them busy! Thanks so much for sending all our questions.

    I was sad to see that the Wikipedia page on Steve you’ve linked to said he’s passed away, he used to live in the same part of London as me and his life sounds very interesting.

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