Is it autumn
or summer? With the warm and dry sunny days that are predominating of late it
is easy to become confused. However the bees are taking full advantage of the
mild conditions and every colony is busy bringing in stores.
returning pollen laden foragers the vivid yellow catches the eye immediately,
in all likelihood this will be from the ivy. Work at the apiary is that of
cutting back the undergrowth and giving the storage shed another coat of wood
preserver. Queen excluders have now been removed plus some unused supers. The
next task will be to affix mouse guards to each hive.
We now have
a 4 wheeled garden trolley (cage type) and this will make the transport of
supers, crown boards and other items from shed to hives a comfortable
operation. Previously we have resorted to the use of a wheel barrow, it did the
job but the rough ground encountered from shed to hives did mean that pieces
were prone to bounce out. Another useful purchase is 3 rigid plastic storage
containers (large type) into these will go our drawn comb for winter storage; this
is to protect them from mice and the dreaded Wax Moth! However eggs and
developing larvae may already be in situ and unseen on the frames going into
storage so a pad soaked in Acetic Acid will be added to each container and this
treatment will stop eggs from hatching and larvae from maturing (Dead I Mean) failing
to store your valuable drawn comb will cost you, so take heed.
the storage shed still requires us to phone ahead for gates to be unlocked! We
can walk through the gardens and get to the hives easily enough but supers,
frames, crown boards etc., are all in the shed. On busy days it is all too easy
for staff to forget us resulting in our abandoning the day’s inspection.
Beekeeping is dominated by the weather and not the time! Let’s hope for common
sense to one day prevail.
No in depth
inspections taking place at this time of the year, however with the
temperatures still in the teens and plenty of external bee activity, plus the
presence of immature dead Varroa Mites on the yellow inserts suggestions
are that as of yet the bees have not
formed a winter cluster.
of pale (immature) mites in the hive debris deposited on the yellow inserts
does suggest that Queens are still laying and in doing so are providing the
wherewithal for the Varroa to also produce offspring. This is not what you
would expect to find when winter months set in. Is climate change a reality
after all? Something is changing and our bees are responding to the milder
weather and are still out and about foraging. If the mild weather persists and
if external forays by the bees are still in evidence I may well open up a
colony and check for evidence of continued brood rearing going on.
the brambles is an on-going project; the mild conditions seem to suit them very
well and if left unchecked they do present tripping hazard when working on and
around the hives.
equipment is being cleaned and frames of drawn comb and foundation have been
secured in strong clear plastic containers, plus Acetic Acid has been included
to deter and destroy any wax moth eggs and larvae whose presence is not always
store your spare equipment correctly, especially the drawn comb will give the
larvae of the Wax Moth the opportunity to develop and consequently ruin each
and every frame they are on.
consumables are not cheap! Their life can and will be extended if you put a
little effort into their use and correct storage.
The continuing unsettled weather is certainly restricting external activity. On days when conditions do allow bees are venturing out and pollen is coming in.
Spring is beginning to show by way of various flowers and the hedgerows are showing definite tinges of green, as of yet no hives have been opened up for inspection but this in itself could be beneficial to our new intake of would be beekeepers who will get hands on experience when they visit Dyffryn. How so beneficial? Well given that fair weather prevails and we do open up the colonies with the newcomers present, they will be able to observe the state of a hive that has come through its winter shutdown. One colony in particular that did not have a mouse guard in place has suffered the ravages of a visit from mice and this will serve as a very visual lesson with regard to incorrect winter hive preparation, there are still bees in it and they are in the upper tiers, they appear well but only a full inspection will provide conformation regarding their viability.
Six colonies were settled for winter and six colonies are showing activity. Throughout the winter inserts have been in place and regular checks of the debris are providing information as to the position of the bees within the hive and of course the Varroa population.
The winter months have revealed dead Varroa and their numbers have been in the teens! Now that the days are getting longer and the Queens are definitely laying the debris is revealing dead adult Varroa and many pale immature Varroa, their numbers are increasing and they now the count is in the 100 plus bracket. There are those who are convinced that they do not have a Varroa problem! We all do. Under floor inserts and checking the contents on a regular basis will show that no one is devoid of this mite.
A hand held magnifier will reveal very well the occurrence of the mites in the floor debris along with many other mites and flies that use the inserts as a source of existence and food.