January update

  • The Apiary is in winter mode, the bees will fly on the odd warm day, and on cold days will be clustered. We’ve not neglected them though! In the week before Christmas Pete and I treated the bees for varroa, by sublimating ApiBioxal, now the only approved form of Oxalic Acid that can legally be used in the UK.
  • Last week we hefted all the hives to check that they had enough stores. All but two seemed fine, and the two that were a bit light were given a fondant feed. We will check on stores regularly now so that no colonies run out, right up until the weather is warmer, and nectar is available again. March is reckoned to be the most dangerous month for our bees. They are increasingly rearing brood again and natural food can be in short supply, and bad weather can stop them flying.
  • We want to have a day or two working in the Apiary, to make new improved hive stands, and generally tidy up ready for the new season. We’ll be asking for volunteers at the January meeting, and setting dates. All help will be gratefully received.
  • Finally, and I’m so chuffed, I got an email from a lady in the USA! Her 11yr old daughter, Peyton Clarkson, is doing a project for her Girl Scouts “bug badge”, and came across the DDBKA web page, and our blog! She tells me she really liked it! Wow! We’ve reached the USA! Peyton has recommended another web page, https://www.alansfactoryoutlet.com/bees-hornets-and-wasps-of-the-world . I had a look and it’s really interesting, and definitely worth a look if your interest goes beyond just our honeybees. Thanks Peyton!



Sunday 30th October

A few of us attended the Apiary this morning, and “put the bees to bed” for winter. Mouseguards were put on and woodpecker protection was added. The wooden Nationals got BEE EQUIPMENT hive wraps which aims to prevent woodpeckers getting a grip, and the Poly and the Top Bar were protected with the traditional wire netting.

We aim to leave them alone now, hefting occasionally until the end of December when we will apply an oxalic acid based treatment for Varroa. Ideally the colonies will be broodless at that time so the mites will be unable to hide in sealed cells. The Oxalic acid should therefore deal the Varroa population a heavy blow.

Thereafter it’s continued checks on stores, and giving them fondant if required until Spring.

It’s Autumn/Winter

No more Weds night meetings now until Spring. The light has beaten us I’m afraid.

We’ll be checking the level of stores in each hive at the October Association meeting next Saturday, and starting to feed to ensure that each hive has enough to get them through until Spring. It’s recommended that each hive has 40 – 45 lbs of stores to get through. There’s plenty of ivy honey coming in, but we’ll feed Ambrosia syrup too, to dilute the ivy a bit as it sets hard on it’s own.

Then we’ll leave them in peace by and large, until it’s time for oxalic acid treatment (ApiBioxal) around the Solstice when the colonies are likely to be broodless. We’ll probably go for sublimation as research by LASI at the University of Sussex indicates that this is the most successful option. The resulting blow to the varroa population gives the bees the best conditions for renewed brood raising as the days start to lengthen again.

We hope to see everyone at the last outdoor meeting on Saturday, our Honey Show at the end of October, and the winter indoor program at Alkham Village Hall. There will be jobs to be done in the Apiary over winter, and no doubt we’ll be asking for your help from time to time through the monthly Newsletter, and at meetings.


Weds 13th September

The Apiguard has done it’s work, and feeding and winter preparations are next.

Peter and Jackie will be at the Apiary on 13th to carry various tasks. Due to the light issues they will be there at 16.00, four o’clock in old money. We realise that this earlier start won’t suit everybody, but if you can get there you’ll be very welcome as usual.

Weds 23rd

Another good turnout. We added the second Apiguard trays, and checked the mite drop on the boards. This varied from a very low 80, to a high of 400, with most around 180 –  200ish, over the two weeks. So in all, not huge levels of infestation.

Clive and Gerry cut the grass, thanks chaps!

No meeting next week, once again we’ll leave the colonies in peace while the Apiguard does it’s work.

Wednesday 23rd August

We’ll meet at 18.30 as usual. So far the forecast is good. We’ll put the second trays of Apiguard in, and check the mite drop from the first.

We’ll have Apiguard for sale, price to members £1.75 per tray. You need two trays per hive. If you haven’t started treatment yet, you really need to soon. Payment in cash is preferred. Philip won’t let me give credit! So if you can’t get to Saturday’s meeting, bring some money tonight!