The lecture today was to give information about preparation for the next few months.
Jan, Feb and March – these are the biggest risks for starvation. The bees have been consuming more food this year as with the winter being mild then the bees having been flying. March is the biggest risk.
It is important to get an idea on how much stores you have left – heft your hive. life it up – if it is easy to lift then they will be low on food. If hard to lift then probably ok.
It is also important to make sure they are still alive – put head on crownboard and listen for buzzing. Also can tap the side of the bix ans you should hear some buzz. If you tap and there is no buzzing – prize off the crownboard and look. If they are moving then good but if not then may have a dead colony. 5-10% of colonies fail. If failed – remove to shed/garage and seal up.
it is normal for dead bees to have been thrown out but if drones then an indicator that the queen has failed.
Feed – give the bees some fondant icing as the bees will treat it as stores. Place it over the hole on the crownboard. Check it once a month and keep going until oil seed rape is in flower. Look where the bees are and place the fondant icing over the cluster. If needs be move the crownboard around.
On mild day (8c) you will see bees flying but only to empty themselves and collect nectar.
10c – there will be flying bees.
Remove the mouseguard.
If you did not treat for varoea in the autumn then treat now but would need to be apistan. Treat as a nuc (half of the recommended amount)
15c – get flying bees and now is the time for the first inspection. Go from edge and just looking for brood. Be less than 5 mins. Just need to see if queen is laying. Move the frames of brood to where the bees are. If there is no brood or predominately drone brood then unlikely to survive.
March/April – you will need spare equipment available to prevent swarm (spare hive or super).
April – Don’t mark queen on the first inspection – do when the drones are in the colony but best early in the season.
If you are still usung nuc frames – move the old frames to the edge of the box and then remove once no brood.
If lots of drone brood – remove the frame as they will just keep producing drone brood there.
Frames with brood – move 3 frames to the end of the brood frames. If you remove 3 frames then feed with sugar syrup but no super.
Once got 5-7 frames of brood then need to add the super. You will start the season with 5 frames of brood. If you have a week colony – you will have 2-3 frames of brood. By mid April the colony should be bigger than the nuc size colony.
You will get a mid spring dwindle – bees from the winter will be 5 months old so will end with up lots of dead bees.
By mid april – should have queen excluder and 2 supers. The super with drawn foundation should be closes to the brood.
7 day inspection from April.
Swarms – usually from May but can be April.
Weak colony- only have 2/3 frames of brood by mid April. By mid April – the colony should be bigger that you got as a nuc. Be aware you will get a spring dwindle where bees from the winter will be 5 months old so will get lots of dead bees.
By mid April – queen excluder and 2 supers. The frames with drawn foundation need to be nearest the bees.
Autopsy of a dead colony
Take inside a garage. look at the bees that have been thrown out. Check if a mouse was in the hive. Block it up.
Signs that died from starvation – heads inside the cells.
Chronic beer paralysis – black and orange body – stress.
Signs that the colony will die:
- aggressive colony.
- produced new queen in Sept.
- Fed but they were not keen to take food.