For part of one of the autumn branch meetings we had an enjoyable 20 minutes sharing those ideas and good practice that made things better for us and our bees. In no particular order, these are some of the ideas put forward by members:
- Light your smoker before opening a hive, even if you were not intending to do much. You never know…
- When making syrup (particularly 2:1) warm the sugar first by putting the bags in a moderate oven for 10 minutes. The sugar will then dissolve much more easily when you mix it with the (hot) water.
- If you see a queen starting to be balled, powder heavily with icing sugar immediately (from the shaker you always keep in your bee box… 🙂 ). This often changes their minds.
- Have a look at the National Honey Show’s channel on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiOtIebcpY0Zqqma0H5wLYQ), to see the great series of lectures by experts at past shows.
- Don’t wash your hair just before going off to do a hive inspection. Some shampoo smells are not appreciated by bees.
- Always wash (in soda solution) your gloves, hive tool, and the handle of your smoker, between hives.
- The hood of your beesuit can go in the washing machine with the rest of your suit/jacket if you tuck it down into a sleeve (for the fencing type) or in the trunk of the zipped-up suit (if round type) first. Secure the opening of the suit with a safety pin and remember to tuck the velcro tab away from the veil as well.
- A see-through/polycarbonate crownboard makes it easier to check how many seams of bees you have in the winter.
- If you have a phone camera, taking some pictures up through the OMF in winter can provide reassurance that they’re still alive in there.
- Luggage scales are very useful in monitoring stores situation in winter. Weigh either both sides or front and back at each visit and compare over time to see how much is being used.
- A spray bottle filled with soda solution can be useful in rinsing gloves. Just be careful not to think it’s the one you filled with clean water for inspections in hot weather (when a fine mist of water can be more calming than smoke for the bees).
- A wallpaper steamer fed down into a box of old comb on a solid floor can melt out the wax very well (and is what the Thornes’ Easi-steam system is based on).
- If you go back to a hive after an inspection and having removed your beesuit, because there was something small you’d forgotten to do, the bees will not realise you were not intending to disturb them – “feeling lazy, I decided to quickly creep back and put my varroa floors in without putting my suit on. As I bent over the wind suddenly gusted and three poor bees got caught in the hair on top of my head and stung me. Later that day I looked like a dolphin.”
- If you want to make some cut comb honey, don’t put the super you want to use directly above the brood box as that is where the bees often store some pollen. Always put your cut comb super on after the OSR season and only on a strong colony.
- Dusting with icing sugar needs to be done regularly every seven days for a worthwhile drop in varroa levels over the season.
- An old duvet cover makes a secure container for a boxed swarm in the car (making sure to leave enough ventilation).
- Shaking a swarm into their new nuc/hive rather than running them in avoids having to deal with instances of them clustering under the new home rather than in it.
- Always check to make sure you’ve placed the central cup back over the access hole when using a rapid feeder of some type. Otherwise, you risk finding 100s of drowned bees when you next check them and feeling like a mass murderer.
- When doing a shook swarm, putting a single frame of uncapped brood into the new brood box along with the frames of foundation means that the bees are much less likely to abscond. Take it out and discard it after a week, when most of that brood has been capped, and you will also get rid of most of the phoretic mites that were on the adult bees.
The final Newsletter of 2015 is downloadable here: WHBNewsletterDecember2015
The best wishes to all for the coming year and good health for all of our bees.
Our AGM, and the following Honey Show, made for an interesting afternoon, last weekend.
At the AGM, it was clear that we have had a good year as a branch, as Julie’s ‘Secretary’s Report’ detailed, and Roger reported also on our increased funds in the branch. New branch officers were appointed by the meeting. The Minutes of the meeting are available here: Bees – Minutes of AGM November 2015.
The Honey Show saw a small but good collection of entries, some of which are shown in the photo below, courtesy of Tilly Bayes:
Some of the entries in the 2015 Honey Show
Last week’s branch meeting was a multi-faceted one, with hive inspections, information exchange, sales, and demonstration + advice for honey creaming. It was also a time for congratulations, as Diane, Ian, Maggy, Sally and Sandy have all passed their Basic Assessment, taken last month. We’re going to have so many knowledgeable beekeepers around if we go on like this… 🙂
Inspections of the branch hives went smoothly, with some newcomers getting their first experience of how a hive full of honeybees looks inside. Julie’s demonstration of honey extraction and how to make ‘creamed honey’ was well received, with many members interested in the process.
Looking forward to the autumn, there will be not only our own honey show to prepare for but also the giant National Honey Show (http://www.honeyshow.co.uk/). Julie will be circulating some more information and tips about this in her next Newsletter, so look out for that soon. There is also the Kent Festival of Bees, at the end of this month, at which our branch will have a stall.
Now that the sunshine and nectar flow seem to be established, and that long-lasting cold NE wind seems finally to have gone, most people’s colonies seem to be settling down. Our branch meeting last Saturday (27 June) was well attended and had a variety of activities for people to take part in. Those stalwarts about to take the Basic Assessment were busy practising hive inspections, another group were getting a (gentle) grip on how to mark queens by practising on drones, while others again were discussing the proper siting of a new swarm in a nuc, with a view to it settling down happily. It was a good meeting and our usual raffle raised some more money for branch funds, helped by the goodwill of those donating the prizes.
A reminder now that our ‘Honeybee Day’ takes place at the Horsebridge Centre in Whitstable this coming Saturday, from 11 am to 3 pm. Why not come along to support the branch, answer questions from the public, and try some of the newly-extracted branch honey.
Finally, three more pieces of information published recently (and that can be found also on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/359167444256663/ ):
At a time of the year when many of us may be thinking hopefully of honey, the latest BeeCraft Hangout focussed on that topic. If you weren’t able to join the live online session yesterday (Wednesday, 17 June) then the recording is now available here – http://www.bee-craft.com/honey-all-you-need-to-know/ to watch/listen to. It was an interesting session. We (the branch) will have our own session looking at honey preparation, when we have the monthly meeting at the end of July.
Today’s meeting had possibly the highest number of attendees (human ones) ever. With lots of new people to involve, plus another group who are going for the Basic Assessment this year and wanted guidance on preparing for that, as well as another few of us who were happy to help out all round, it was a busy afternoon – as can be seen from the photos below. Discussions before the inspection covered topical subjects such as swarm prevention, and how to do an artificial swarm using the ‘cup of tea’ method (for more details, ask someone who was there 🙂 ). Our branch secretary, Julie, and apiary manager, Keith, both had a busy afternoon and we and our bees made full use of the warm and pleasant day.
Lots of people, all learning something.
New potential beekeepers getting an introduction to what is involved.
Bees recovering after an inspection.
Bees and beekeeper, hanging out together.