The first week of September has come and gone and both I and the bees have been making the most of the continuing good weather. All the hives have been fed and we are one week into the first Apiguard application, the floors are in and the entrances still restricted as wasps are still very much in evidence and are proving a real nuisance this year. The bees obviously aren’t too impressed as on the hottest couple of days, there were probably as many bees outside the hive as there were in but generally, the days are cooling as the nights draw in so, not a lengthy problem. The new colony and the nuc are now in position on the stand as the new number six.
THE NEW No 6 IN FINAL POSITION
It has taken a couple of weeks to get them into position moving them two or three feet a day. If you’ve got some scraps of wood and a wheelbarrow at your disposal you could do a lot worse than knock up your own “transporter”. It has made my life so much easier, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner.
SO SIMPLE TO MAKE BUT WHAT A DIFFERENCE IT’S MADE.
I haven’t decided what to do with the nuc.yet, they have built up well but I don’t see them over-wintering alone, especially if as I suspect, we have a hard winter in prospect. The choices as I see them are, either unite them with the colony they’re on or use them to re-queen number three. My thinking behind this is that as three houses the swarm that I collected earlier this year, the queen is an unknown quantity. Although they have built up really well and are of a pleasant disposition, the queen might be predisposed to swarming, a quality I’d rather not introduce into the apiary.
My visit to the apiary today has thrown up another alternative. Colony eight, although having filled three supers and managed to accumulate in excess of forty pounds of stores in their brood chambers suddenly seems short of bees. This going by the activity at the entrance compared with the other hives. I didn’t have time today for more than a quick look beneath the crown board, and they didn’t look too bad but it’s given me cause for concern nevertheless. I shall give them a proper examination before the second application of Apiguard goes on next week and if necessary, unite them with the nuc. Eight has been far and away my best colony and the one I’d earmarked for my queen rearing program next year. So, fingers crossed I’m just imagining a problem where none exist, I’ll let you know. If nothing else, it illustrates the benifits of having a nuc. at one’s disposal.
Friday gone was the end of the first period of Apiguard and time to apply the second dose. Also an oportunity to have another look at what was going on below the crown boards. Glad to report, all seems to be looking good. Eight now looks as active as the rest so, hopefully I was imagining a problem where none existed but I shall be keeping a close eye on them. I mentioned previously that I had left them with in excess of forty pounds of honey which they had stored in their brood chambers, well, I’ve noticed in the last couple of days that some of the honey, now in jars, appears to be setting. Not a problem in itself as many people prefer set honey but if the honey stored in eight sets unnoticed, then it’s a dissaster as the bees won’t be able to access it and will starve. I know this to be the case as it happened to one of my colonies a couple of years ago and of course, it was my best one. Like eight, they had in their brood boxes, well in excess of forty pounds of honey and so I didn’t give them any syrup. Unfortunately, unlike now, I didn’t notice my jarred honey had set until well into November by which time it was far to late to do any thing about it and by Spring they had starved. A sad sight, all those little dead bodies sticking out of the combs from which they had tried to glean every last drop of honey. I have given eight ten pounds of syrup to go on with, this they took down overnight so it didn’t interfere with the Varroa treatment. This Saturday is my turn to host society members at my apiary and the guest expert will be David Maslen. For once, the timing couldn’t have been better, with the exception of six and the nuc’, they have all been fed and the second Apiguard treatment has finished. I shall take the oportunity to seek David’s advice regarding eight and also what best to do with the nuc. I’m really looking forward to Saturday, these meetings are a chance to bounce ideas off of each other and to just generally socialise. I never come away without something new to think about. I had the meadow cut yesterday and it’s looking pretty good. I’ll strim around the hive stands before the weekend and the job will be finished.
GETTING THE MEADOW READY FOR SATURDAY
I’m pleased with the way the meadow looks after it’s face lift and thank goodness, the weather forcast is good for Saturday so, fingers crossed. By contrast, there are gales with high winds forcast for the next couple of days so, with the nuc. a little vulnerable perched on six, I’ve taken the precaution of strapping them down. Better safe than sorry.
HIVE SIX AND NUC. STRAPPED TO HIVE STAND
Hive six is at an angle as I am in the process turning it to face right. I try not to have the hives facing the same way as their neighbours to discourage drifting.
Well, yesterday, Saturday has come and gone. The day started with the sandwich making and the procurement of paper plates,serviettes etc. all of which arrived at the meadow about lunch time. Tables and seating suitably re-arranged under the apple trees and direction signs installed. Nothing now apart from a few last tweaks but await the first arrivals. Always a nervous time this, will the weather hold, will anybody come ! And, then in through the gate the first car appears shortly followed by the second and then as if by magic, the meadow is alive with white suited bodies.
Now David Maslen arrives, he’d changed his car since the last time we’d seen him which rather threw us. I think he’d had the last one since the year dot. A quick welcome and we’re on our way down the meadow.
DAVID LEADS THE WAY, SMOKER AT THE READY.
David, as always was on fine form and the next hour or so passed enjoyably by. He was able to allay my concerns regarding eight and the need to re-queen three. The nuc. was, in his opinion strong enough to over-winter so no need to unite with six, just a bit more feed needed so no problems there. Hive one by comparison, was really suffering. I haven’t had a good look at any of hives since extracting. This has been followed by feeding and applying the Apiguard so a good six weeks has passed since then. All seemed ok then but as this just goes to show, six weeks can be a long time in beekeeping. I had noticed the wasps seemed to be paying hive one more attention than the rest and as well as closing the entrance to barely one bee space, I had surrounded the hive with wasp traps. This hadn’t managed to deter the wasps and opening the hive showed the bees to be in a poor state. They were showing severe signs of stress, the varroa count was up, despite four weeks of Apiguard. There was signs of deformed wing virus and some chalk brood. All of these are so obvious and easy to see, I’m certain they weren’t present when last I examined them. So what to do, David gave them a dousing of nitric acid to knock down the varroa and it was decided the only course open was to leave them to their own devices. Predators are quick to spot weakness in their prey and the wasps had certainly done this. The only good thing, if there was one, was that the wasps by concentrating their efforts on hive one, had to some extent, more or less, ignored the others. So, that’s what I shall do, if one comes through the Winter, great, if not I shall start a new colony in the Spring with my nuc.
TIME FOR TEA
I, for one, learned a lot from Saturday and I’m sure everyone else did. We finished the afternoon with some light refreshments accompanied with genial chat and the usual light hearted banter.This was the last apiary meeting of the year and, speaking for myself, greatly enjoyed.
One thing which did emerge was the general feeling that we were about to face a severe Winter. This greatly re-enforced my own feelings and I decided there and then that another feed would be the order of the day. Monday saw me at Booker’s purchasing yet another bag of sugar and by Wednesday they had all received another ten pounds of syrup. There can be few sights more pitiful than a colony which has starved and one I certainly don’t want to see repeated here, certainly not for the want of a bag of sugar. My advise, if you’re in any doubt, feed !