Bee Blogs – April 2016

by in News, Personal Blogs, Simon's Bee Keeping

As we move closer to the business end of the beekeeping year, maybe I need to revise my goals for the year – move away from producing a surplus of honey to producing a surplus of bees. Thus I would be helping to rebuild the bee population and increase pollination which is the most important function of bees!
I read recently:
“We are the custodians of a species that is fundamental to the life cycles of a vast range of flowering plants which in turn are the food for animal species big and small (including humans of course!). If honey bees continue to decline, species everywhere will go down like dominoes. Perhaps it is our duty, as well as our privilege, to find a better way to to work with our bees, helping them stay healthy and numerous. 
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Last month I visited a bee supplier in Leitrim. I don’t recall being in Leitrim before – it was beautiful and somehow different. Before setting out, I rang the supplier for directions – in her definite german accent she gave me directions that were typically precise and delivered me to and Larry a beekeeping friend, to her door without faltering or needing a GPS.
The whole scene looked unpromising – there was little sign of bees and every sign that the owners of the property were under strain to manage the enterprise. The woman of the house greeted us and led us across the road to an old hay barn with bee hives in front of it. We passed a honey house at the bottom of the hay barn and were then led up into the loft where there were large cardboard boxes full of polystyrene bee hive parts. This was clearly not a major bee supplier despite the rather elaborate web site which had lured me here. She explained that her partner had a very debilitating disease and was no longer able to do physical work. She seemed sad and resigned to the emergence of a different way of life. They had come to Ireland 25 years previously on holidays and fallen in love with Leitrim and settled there.
I ended up buying a Langstroth polystyrene hive consisting of three boxes, a roof, a floor and frames to go in the three boxes. The hives are excellent quality and I am delighted to find someone else espousing the virtues of the polystyrene hive.  My three polystyrene hives are already way ahead of their wooden neighbours!
The frames were wired but the wax had to be embedded in the wire – something I had not done before. Previous to this I had always bought wax already wired and ready for use. I borrowed a small machine that delivered a small electrical current through the wires and so melted the wax into them. After some practice I got the knack of it and was happy to have learned a new skill.
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The 7 deadly sins of beekeepers
  1. not doing a beekeeping course.
  2. not feeding your bees adequately.
  3. not treating bees for disease and pests.
  4. removing queen cells too quickly.
  5. opening a hive without a plan.
  6. removing honey stores too early.
  7. do not always follow mentors advice! watch listen and learn
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  1. During the lovely weather in the middle of March I went through all  my hives and checked for brood and food supplies. I also took the opportunity to mark the queens if I found her quickly. I missed one. It is so much easier to spot her at this time of the year when the population is small. Two colonies that looked busy were in fact empty and stronger colonies were simply helping themselves to the supplies that remained. I discovered some fresh honey in one or two of the stronger colonies and this explained its origin!  This robbing can be difficult to stop as the stronger hives get a taste for this easily accessed honey pot and move on to the next hive. It is much more common in the autumn. I removed the two empty hives and the robbing has ceased.  These hives need to be cleaned. The inside of the hive and the top of the frames scraped clean of brace comb and scorched.  Inferior  combs need to be cut out of their frames and stored in a sealed container, to avoid the attention of wax moths, until they can be rendered into blocks of wax. I sometimes dispose of my inferior brood combs by burning. This gets rid of disease spores and pyrethroid residues. Very little wax is obtained from old brood combs in any case.

INFLUENZA: A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ingredient which kills the influenza germs and saves us from flu!

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