Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – A Quick Cold Inspection, Hive Insulation, Wasp Traps, Pollinator Studies

Amanda holds regular Beekeeping Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees Specie Crocus C Tommasinianus Feb18 AM
Specie Crocus C Tommasinianus

March Notes

When putting sterilised frames in an outside apiary shed one cold day in Feb, I saw a Shrew running around the plastic tray in which a brood box with drawn comb was sitting. The board covering the top had moved leaving a small gap. Lifting the brood box, a large pile of leaves fell out. I carefully replaced the box, and the gap, with the shrew back between two frames, as they eat small pests. Yes, I know I shall have to recycle the frames in the spring but I am rather fond of shrews.

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With a bit of luck we may be able to make a quick inspection later in March if it reaches about 12 °C and light wind. Clean Cover cloths will help keep the warmth in. I have already seen them all taking in crocus and snowdrop pollen so am sure they all have brood but in this brief first inspection I shall concentrate on seeing if this is worker brood (hopefully no drone, indicating either queen loss or drone laying queen) and that they have space for the queen to lay in. From my last inspections in the autumn I already know which ones will need a shook swarm to replace all the dark frames in April, or just a few old frames which can be changed over the next few weeks before the brood area expands back into them making it more complicated. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – A Quick Cold Inspection, Hive Insulation, Wasp Traps, Pollinator Studies”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Equipment Prep, Colonies Check, Gardening, Neonic News

Amanda holds regular Beekeeping Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

bee drinking from water drops in grass Amanda Millar Jan18
Bee drinking from water drops in grass

Preparing For Spring

Only a month to go before beekeeping starts again; time to make sure all our equipment is clean, there are some supers and frames ready to put on and some brood boxes and frames ready for the shook swarms and frame replacement which I always have to do on a few in the spring. You can leave putting the foundation in until the beginning of March to keep it fresh and fragrant. It will also be worth putting the insert in for a week at some point to see if they need a quick varroa treatment in March before the supers go on. Keep hefting the hives; the queens will be laying more now and the store’s consumption will go up. If necessary use fondant until March when it will be warm enough for syrup, but don’t overfeed or they will just move it all into your new supers as the brood area expands. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Equipment Prep, Colonies Check, Gardening, Neonic News”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hive Temperatures, Neonicotinoids

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

beekeeping-notes

Temperatures and Clusters

At this time of year, we cannot see what the bees are up to except by observing the entrance or briefly lifting the crown board. The 20 colonies I am currently looking after are all reacting differently, probably related to their genetic make-up, colony size and disease states. In the course of ridding them of mites by dusting, and therefore opening most of them twice a week in November I have seen some in a tight quiet cluster, others are loosely clustered and active. Some are low down in the hive and I have to take the heavy super off to find them. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hive Temperatures, Neonicotinoids”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hives And Equipment, Apishield, Neonics

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Butterfly on hive
Butterfly on hive

Checking Hives

There is little to do in December except checking that the hives have not blown over, or been damaged by woodpeckers, damp or vandalism and that the entrances are not blocked by dead bees. Put the insert in mid month for a week (or do an icing sugar dust to get a more accurate and rapid assessment) in order to assess the mite drop and decide whether oxalic acid treatment is necessary at the end of the month. Sussex University believe that if any sealed brood is removed just before doing an oxalic treatment, this will last for a full year. Do take appropriate personal safety measures and read thoroughly the dosage etc to prevent harm to yourselves and the bees. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Checking Hives And Equipment, Apishield, Neonics”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Varroa, Harsh Weather, Neonicotinoids, Bee Convention

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees collecting water
Bees collecting water

Varroa Update

The varroa ‘bomb’ has struck again, in about the second week of October. In August my mite levels were generally low and I got most of them down to single figures after a dusting. I usually check again mid October, but was a week later than planned as I hurt my back lifting a too heavy super. I dusted on 20th October and was horrified, but not surprised, to have drops of between 19 and 550, so whenever weather permits, I shall be dusting. In 2012 all those which dropped more than 300 after a dusting at the end of October, died. The weather was poor that year though, so they were probably more susceptible. It will be interesting to see if the two this year dropping 400 and 550 die over winter. I hope not as they were promising new colonies this year. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Varroa, Harsh Weather, Neonicotinoids, Bee Convention”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Winter Feeding, Varroa Checks, Hornet Control, Wax Moths

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

Bees orange ragwort or pale balsam pollen
Ragwort pollen pouring in, in response to first feed in early September. Entrance (5.5mm high) reduced right down with sponge to help defend against wasps and robbers.

Feeding and Varroa Check for Winter

Feeding syrup should be completed by now, this is so the bees have time before the weather becomes colder, to reduce the moisture in it as they would with nectar so it will keep over winter. If they still do not have what they need, I expect that 2:1 syrup or invert syrup is still better than anything else such as fondant, until the weather falls consistently below 14°C, at which point they go into a cluster. Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Winter Feeding, Varroa Checks, Hornet Control, Wax Moths”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Seasons Turning, Cappings, Hives Review, Apiguard, Honey Crop

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

How quickly the seasons turn

It is now damp and cloudy and some leaves are turning brown; bee populations are reducing brood although still active in the warmth. All seem to be in robbing mode and as soon as I open my honey shed door or garage where my licked supers are stored they are in there sniffing around. I am careful to cover the frames with cover cloths when opening hives and when I do icing sugar treatments I stuff a cloth at the back to prevent the wasps and robbers messing up the insert drop. Be especially careful not to drop any wax or syrup on the ground. If you start feeding, do the first one in the evening and try to do them all at the same time to minimise the excitement it causes. I must put my wasp traps up.

Bee on Sedum
Bee on Sedum

Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Seasons Turning, Cappings, Hives Review, Apiguard, Honey Crop”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Pollinators, Wasps, Honey Flow, Requeening, Varroa Treatment

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our beekeeping newsletters. Our regular newsletter can be found here. Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

In mid July, I was in the garage scraping some old frames and heard a hum. Rushing outside, I saw a medium sized swarm of bees in the middle of the garden which rapidly made off over the wall, across my neighbour’s garden and up and off far away at quite a speed as though they knew where they were going.

Bees on Goat's Rue
Bees on Goat’s Rue

Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Pollinators, Wasps, Honey Flow, Requeening, Varroa Treatment”

Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Caring For Bees In Hot Weather

Bee on Thalictrum flafum
Bee on Thalictrum Flafum

Planting for Bees
In late June I went to RHS Wisley on a sunny day. Salvias and Nepeta were very popular with the bees for nectar and I came home with two varieties from the plant shop, which had the most bees on. Lots of bees were collecting pollen from the yellow pompoms of Thalictrum flavum;  Meadow Rue so it looks like I shall have to locate a plant or seed of that too. Of course, the ‘drifts’ at Wisley are spectacular but my pots look good on my patio.
Continue reading “Amanda’s Beekeeping Notes – Caring For Bees In Hot Weather”