Please note that today's planned final apiary session is cancelled. An email will be sent to the membership to also inform of this. Instead an audit of equipment and shed clean up will take place tomorrow by some committee members.
,This is the penultimate apiary session for 2018, and this week the Blog has been produced by Basra with Photos by Clive.
Next year the management of the apiary is likely to be a team effort, but in reality it has been a team effort this year, and I have been privileged to be part of that team, which consisted of the 33 members who contributed to the sessions.
We have had fun learning and exchanging ideas. We have engaged in group problem solving and deployed some solutions that were not necessarily by the book, but they worked. Fortunately bees do not read books and between them and us we have done well, with six good hives going into winter.
The attendance represents about one third of the membership, and delivers the basic training and experience that new beekeepers require. There is networking and mutual support, which is the essence of a successful society. I look forward to 2019 and thank you all for your enthusiasm and effect contributions.
A beautifully fresh morning greeted us at the apiary session today. The autumnal sun peeped through the clouds and the chill in the air around us ensured that we were in fine form to work…and what an impressive work force turned out – 13 beekeepers! I continue to ponder a collective noun for such a group – A colony? A hive? A nuisance?
The bees were left snug and warm in their hives today – not a creature stirred, although talk of bees still being active this week filled the air. Hopefully, the weather will return to its usual seasonal norm in the not too distant future.
A wasp-like insect in a jar greeted us this morning and a discussion ensued as to its identification. We final settled on a queen wasp and the pros and cons of its existence – answers on a postcard please!
Now, down to business…
Our aim today was to prepare resources for the following beekeeping year. We’re going to be extra ready this year! We’re going to be organised! Honestly, we really are!
We aim to run four hives in the apiary, and therefore needed to prepare an additional four hives (each with three supers.) This will ensure that when swarming preparations begin – a very distant memory (currently), but it’s surprising how quickly the year slips by – we will be ready with clean and complete kit.
We learnt the value of inspecting a box for its quality before starting the cleaning process.
Ken’s Top Tip: Always select good quality boxes with no holes or gaps.
A brief exchange of ideas took place regarding the runners inside the supers. As the majority of the runners were made from plastic, these needed to be removed before nuking. The suggestion was to replace them with metal ones. However, be mindful, that when treating varroa later on in the year with oxalic acid, steel will react with the chemical treatment.
As we crept cautiously into the apiary, all was quiet on the Western Front. We talked about the advantages of moving boxes in the depths of winter, when the bees are not flying. These need to be moved either three feet or three miles away to enable the bees to reorientate themselves successfully and we contemplated the eventual move of Hives 8, 9 and 10 to give a little extra space between them.
The spirit of Evil Edna continues to reign supreme in Hive 10, and although these hives produce a good honey crop, it’s perhaps not the best idea to have anything close by to her. After all, we don’t want that sort of behaviour catching on!
We talked about the dreaded wax moth and the trail of destruction of its larvae and discovered that they don’t particularly like foundation, as it has not yet been drawn out to house brood.
Wax moth devour the debris of the larvae, and as we had learnt from a previous apiary session led by Stephen, bees do not remove evidence of defecation after the larvae have emerged – they simply polish down the cell and carry on. It’s all perfectly sanitary, but over time, the drawn comb darkens as a result of this and will need to be replaced.
Ken’s Top Tip: Treat with Certan to reduce the capability of wax moth.
The benefits of storing drawn comb over winter were shared. As beekeepers that love their bees very much, we always like to give them a helping hand at the beginning of the Spring. Drawn comb enables the queen to begin laying and bees storing pollen and nectar without using up vital energy reserves in drawing out foundation.
Ken’s Top Tip: Assess the drawn comb for it’s quality and keep it for the following year.
Whilst we were all asking questions, the subject of extra pollen came up. The suggestion was to freeze the frame over winter, as it is surplus to requirements and return it to the hive around February/March time in preparation for the OSR crop.
Ken’s ‘chain gang’ quickly organised themselves, and small groups were formed to complete the following tasks:
A busy chatter about our experiences, problems, and advice from the outgoing beekeeping year made for light work, with a hilarious anecdote coming up top trumps where Ken and Clive were extracting honey and were unsuspectingly followed into a room by an inquisitive bee. Little did they realise that she had called 12,000 or so of her closest friends and relatives to come and join her. Who needs social media to get the word out when you’ve got bees?
Ken’s Top Tip: Try to clean kit immediately (in the ideal world.)
And so our beekeeping year slowly draws to a close. We thank Ken for giving of his time so generously and being dedicated to maintaining the teaching apiary and assisting us mere mortals in our quest to be better beekeepers.
We thank all of our experienced beekeepers that led sessions to share their passion and expertise with us and all those who attended throughout the year to make it such a worthwhile and camaraderie experience.
We haven’t finished yet…
We look forward to a newly established Apiary Team taking the reigns and continuing this vital work and…
…Our next session will focus on further tidying and organisation and removing varroa treatments on the hives.
All quiet and calm on arrival, temperature around 12c and all bees indoors at 10am.
Eight members of the Society attend this session. We were very pleased to meet another new member to the Society.
The objectives being the removal of feeders, and the installation of mouse-guards.
The weather was cool and initially dry but rain commenced about half-way through.
All the six feeders were effectively empty (some residue but not much). They were removed to be cleaned will and then stored.
Inevitably the rain appeared but umbrellas were at the ready We then practiced hefting the hives. Individual beekeepers can use this method to judge the state of winter stores without breaking into the crown board, preserving the seal made by the bees with propolis and maintaining the temperature in the brood box.
Mouse-guards were fitted. The threat from wasps and hornets has receded, but now is the time for rodents to consider warmer accommodation for the winter, which should not include our bee-hives!
We discussed the threat of wood-peckers and we looked at the wired frames that will be deployed later in the winter as the risk develops in very cold weather.
There was a lengthy Q&A session amongst the members where individual experiences of their own bee-keeping were shared and we all benefited from that shared knowledge.Thanks to everyone who attended and for their help in sharing the cleaning of the feeders. Also to Clive for the Photography
Ken Gallagher Apiary Supervisor
Seven members attended this apiary session on a cool day, but temperatures sufficient to check the hives for brood and stores as we move into the autumn period. All hives had been set up with feeders two weeks ago, and varroa treatment put in place. I had replenished the feeders two days ago. During this session rain progressively came into play and we completed the work using umbrellas.
Hive 4 is a reduced hive using dummy boards, slightly more than a polynuc but less than a full hive. There were stores on 4 frames and brood on 1.
Hive 5 remains a strong colony with stores on 9 frames and brood on 3 frames.
Hive 7 looks strong with stores on 8 frames and brood on 2 The red queen seen.
Hive 8 had 8 frames of stores and 2 frames of brood The red queen was seen
Hive 9 had 8 frames of stores and 2 frames of brood The red queen was seen
Hive 10 had 9 frames of stores and 2 frames of brood.
The weather precluded detailed searching for queens but examination of all hives indicated they were queen right.
This is the link to the National Bee Unit (NBU) guide to feeding bees. It gives the correct ratio of sugar to water and also explains the benefit of dissolving some thymol crystals and adding this to the syrup to prevent the feed from going mouldy. It has an added benefit of helping to reduce the risk of the bees suffering from nosema. drive.google.com/open?id=1swbNIO-pT6EnNX1f6XGpRlhA3TiA5-w8
Seven of us, including Jim and Don, had a busy morning on this cool and overcast day at Fulmer. Ambitions were high. All honey had been harvested before and the supers were already gone. Queen excluders were removed and all the crown boards opened up for ventilation. The food reserves and brood patters were assessed in all hives. Jim showed us the way and then we all got stuck in. Queens were spotted - eventually.
By hefting the brood boxes and the often angry response when we opened them up - all the hives desperately needed feeding (down to only 1-3 frames of honey reserves!). Most hives were down to 2-4 frames with brood. Feeders were installed ready for Jim to fill with heavy syrup – it looks like quite a few refills will be needed before all the broods are well stocked with stores for the winter.
8 members of the Society attended this session on a bright if somewhat cool day at the apiary. With one exception, queens were found, and the general strength and well being of the colonies was good. The supers previously put on for clearing were complete and removed and the final three supers with extracted wet frames were shared between 4, 7 and 10.
Hive 7 seemed a little agitated, and despite great concentration the queen could not be found. That is until someone noticed it was sitting on the rear right shoulder of the whitest, brightest bee suit. Sneaky! but It was gently gathered into a container and returned to the hive, where happiness and great calm ensued.
Hive 4 - previously a nucleus from Hive 10, and with a new red queen (last seen 11/8/18) but could not be found. It was much stronger and had brood and larvae, (some of the latter very recent). The box is quite congested so no conclusion can be drawn just yet. A super for clearing placed above with Queen excluder, so she will be found.
Three new members, and a lot of hands on experience for all concerned. So a successful day.
We have completed the harvesting of the honey, and very soon cleared supers will be removed. More interest from wasps of course. There is however still forage coming in to the hives, but laying by the queens is slowing down, so whilst there was good sealed brood and larvae, eggs were harder to find.
We need to consider varroa control, and then concentrate on strong hives and good stores
Apiary Session - Preparations for post harvesting, when building strong hives and managing pests will be essential.
Seven members of the society attended the session on a relatively cool and dry day at the apiary.The objectives for this session were: Inspection of Hives 10, 8 and 5; Check supers to estimate harvesting schedule; start a varroa count; and reduce hive entrances as we see the increase of wasps and hornets at the apiary site. They removal of the honey crop was advertised, however this will be scheduled later, foraging is continuing although it now appears to be reducing.
Hive 8 was the first inspection and the queen was seen. There was Brood in all stages over three frames and building of honey and pollen on five others. The bees were calm and seem to be building in strength. There is no super on this hive. A varroa tray was placed on the hive and the entrance was reduced
Hive 5 the queen was seen and there was Brood in all stages. There were a number of dead drones on the upper side of queen excluder, but the colony was otherwise quite strong and healthy. The bees were very calm. There are two supers, one almost full of sealed brood, the remainder only a couple of frames of honey. A varroa tray was placed on the hive and the entrance was reduced
Hive 10 the queen was not seen, and had not been seen for some time. The inspection of 4/7/18 indicated brood in all stages, but now there was only sealed brood, no larvae or eggs. There were four supers, three of which were almost full of sealed honey, but the remaining one little activity, it was removed. It was begging to look queen less and if that was the case, the brood was not in a position to create an emergency queen. A frame of brood in the egg/larvae stage was moved form Hive 7 into this hive and it will be inspected next Friday. A varroa tray was placed on the hive but the entrance was not reduced as the floor configuration would not allow.
Hive 9 needed a change in the floor to allow the placing of a varroa tray, and the entrance was reduced.
With the exception of Hive 4, we had inspected all the hives, and they are strong or growing, but the issue of hive 10 will need to be monitored. Hive 4 was seen four days ago and is making good progress.
Many thanks to all attendees, everyone engaged in all the main and support activity and additionally to clive for the photography.
An interim session, with Clive and myself, concentrating on the three hives most in need of attention. The remainder will be managed on Saturday 28th July,i.e. Hive 10 and Hive 5 (looking good), and Hive 8 (remains quiet).
Hive 9 - time to test the mood of the brood!
Re-queened on 29th June by way of uniting, as the Queen introduced on 16th June had failed.
On the 3rd July when uniting complete, the boxes were condensed. The resultant hive was very aggressive.
On the 13th July, the hive was still too aggressive to inspect. This was from the moment the first super was exposed.
Working on the basis that the previous queen was despatched because her progeny were aggressive, there would be a three week period for the new brood to start to emerge.
So today we would expect the nurse bees to be from the new queen but the workers are still likely to be from the former queen. And so it appeared! The supers contained calm, but once into the brood box there was slightly more agitation and some aggression. However, the bees, the brood and the honey are all in good order. Queen not seen but lots of eggs and Brood in all stages.
Hive 4 - The former nucleus box
The red queen seen and a lot of work drawing foundation and building stores, no super on this hive and not required. Looking good
Hive 7 - The united hive
Red Queen seen and bees working brood combs with good brood. Little activity in the super, but that is of no surprise,