Ouch….

Well today I decided to to the frames back in the super – what I thought would be a simple and quick job was very different.

I went down there with just my gloves and jacket and brush. When I got down to the hive the lid wasn’t on straight – i took the roof off to discover that there were lost of bees on top of the crown board – the insert covering the holes was not laying flat so the bees had managed to escape from the super. The bees were not happy that I had disturbed them. i had bees crawling over my legs so decided to go and get my trousers and wellies – but didn’t get my smoker. This was my downfall.

I went back and they were more agitated than before as I had left the lid off so they had started to get cold. I decided to quickly put the frames back in the super and replace the crown board and roof. Sounds simple but was far from it. I ended up loads of bees all over my jacket, gloves and trousers and despite walking away from the hive they didn’t move. I tried to use the brush to move them off me – this didn’t work. I was getting stung through my clothes – I was getting very stressed so hence so were the bees. I then discovered that a bee had got into my hood – despite trying to squish I was having no luck. In the end i decided to take my jacket off and hoping the bees would fly off.  This didn’t really work – I ended up with bees around my head and arms.

By the end I had abandoned my jacket, trousers, gloves and wellies in the garden. I had been stung on my arm, legs, little finger and ear (and later discovered one on my back). I managed to retrieve my clothes and they will now be washed given the amount of stings.

Big learning curve – always take a smoker and fully suited up.

Brief Inspection

After my winter lecture, i came home and took off the 2 supers that had some honey on it. The bees seems rather calm so decided to do a brief inspection. There were bees on about 8 frames in the brood box and few bees in the super. There were larvae, capped brood, honey and nectar. I couldn’t see any eggs.

I left the rest of the super on and plan to remove the super next weekend ti then start feeding and treating. This will give the bees chance to move the honey down to the broodbox.

In general they seem happy, calm and grown a lot since my last visit.

Feeling much more confident that they will be big enough to work through the winter.

Winter Preparation

Today was my CBKA lecture on Winter preparation.

Honey – it was recommended not to leave supers on the hive over the winter.  There is a belief that a colony can survive the winter on stores in the broodbox. As they move around the hive as a group to keep warm, it is easier for them to just move around the brood box. You can leave the super on, but you would need to remove the queen excluder to allow the queen to move with the rest of the colony. This then leaves the need to move her back to the broodbox in the spring and eggs and larvae being laid in the super. In theory these risks are minimal as the colony will have moved back to the brood box in the winter but it adds an extra complication. The general advice is that unless you have a large colony then stick with the broodbox only.

Extraction – you can use an extractor but only worth it if you have many frames. If you only have a few then it is simpler to cut off the sealed honey and allow the honey to drip through a sieve into a bowl. You could also use an uncapping tray. uncapping-tray

Then the honey can be bottled but worth allowing the honey to settle firm so all the air bubbles come to the top. This prevents the honey crystallising on the top.

Varroea Treatment – it is recommended to treat Varoea if you have had a number if bees affected by the mite. If you have not had a bad infestation, you could leave the treatment but would need to treat in the spring. Apiguard is a slow release gel where vapour is gradually given out to kill the mite. There are 2 cycles needed with each pack lasting 3 weeks. You need to start to treat by the beginning of Sept and preferably earlier. Put the sachet underneath the crownboard – you will need to build a shallow square frame the same size of the hive to allow enough size for the sachet. Alt put an empty super box but this will make the hive cooler.

Apistan – an alternative treatment. These are strips that are hung on frames and left for 6 weeks. This affects the honey and you are unable to sell any honey left in a hive treated with

Feeding – you need to start feeding the bees from beginning of Sept and keep feeding until the bees stop taking the food. This is essentially sugar syrup (2lb of sugar dissolved in 1 pint of warm water). There are a range of feeders but recommended an English Feeder or Rapid feeder as they are less messy in re-filling. The bees will draw the sugar syrup into the brood chamber to give them around feed for the winter.  You can give emergency feed in early spring (Jan) with a bag of fondant icing.

Mice – need to put a mouse guard over the entrance.

Woodpecker – they will peck at the hive to get access to the bees. Either surrounded with chicken wire or put a plastic covering of the hive -with the plastic cut into the strips on the sides of the hive.

Over the winter – keep checking the weight of the brood box to get a sense of having enough stores. Remove the floor board to allow the air to circulate around the hive and prevent dampness.