Its continued to be a very busy February into March as things start to spring up and bees start to do their business preparing for the new season – well that’s what they are supposed to be doing!
The high winds associated with Storm Ciara and Dennis and now Storm Jorge have kept us on our toes. I thought my hives had survived well through the first storm as my quick circuit round found all the polyhives standing until the next day when the local tree feller I met said he had put the hive tops back on for me! Oh dear I thought that’s must have seen some of the bees off – but not – they had all survived – even the one at Cromwell lock which had a wooden national roof blown off manged to huddle together and keep going as they must have been exposed for over 24 hours - we will see if the chill factor has caused any harm over the next few months.
I lashed all the roofs down with straps preparing for the next storm – which had no roofs missing at the end of that one. At the start of Storm Dennis I managed to get upto Cromwell lock with gale force winds to see if the hive was still standing and with an inch of water already flooding the site the hive was still upright. The water level rose beyond the expected 5 inches on the River Trent with the water level upto the hive entrance and the entire island they were on was completely submerged. But the bees survived and were happily munching away at fondant and a pollen patty. I had a few empties at Cromwell lock one of which got blown over and must have been submerged as the frames inside were full of silt. It was on the edge of the receded Trent and thankfully did not get swept away.
So far we have survived the first two storms with a few mishaps and I fully expect the next one to be survivable. We will see over the weekend.
I have been updating the website with back editions of Beemaster and have now added the Linda and Maurice Jordan movie “Our Year in Beekeeping”. It was filmed over 2012/13 but the techniques and storyline is the same no matter how you keep bees. There is more to update as we have now gone onto the Weebly pro edition which gives more memory and storage space. Its surprising how often the contacts page is used making enquiries about courses and various beekeeping queries. I am endeavouring to make the website somewhere that members will actually want to visit as I hear that it is often ignored as a source point of information by members.
The beginner’s course at Newark has started with 25 newbies and with the new price structure the NBKA will get a nice financial boost. I understand the Nottingham Course at 50 newbies will provide even more to the annual coffers. We need to plan out how we are going to use any excess over income perhaps in new projects.
The following events are always good for that item you have always wanted but was too expensive from Thornes.
Beetradex on 14th March 2020 at Hall H2 Stoneleigh Park Warwickshire
Lincoln Association Auction on 21st March 2020 at the Lincolnshire Showground
Nottinghamshire Association Auction on 28th March 2020 at the Newark Showground
Peterborough and District Auction on the 20th April 2020 at Sacrewell Farm
Always invest in equipment as you will always have it – Bees are transitory!
A winter update from the National Bee Unit has reminded all beekeepers that with bad weather conditions affecting much of the UK we should check our colonies for stores, pest damage, Varroa mite count and damp presence and act on anything that needs to be sorted.
What we did in January 2020
So far the winter has been kind to us although it has been rather wet and windy at times. January for me has seen a period of Wax Rendering, Wax Exchange v Conversion, Building more new supers and brood boxes as I double up again, cleaning out old boxes with the blow lamp (not the poly’s), making new frames for new boxes (Can anyone put a complete frame together in less than 30 seconds – a twitter social media challenge!) and finally frame dipping to strip off the final residuals in a hot bath of soda crystals and bleach (Thank you Neil Pont). If anyone says what does a beekeeper do in winter it seems there is more to do than in the active season. Not forgetting checking colonies for food supplies, varroa treatment, relocating hives for the new season and setting up new ones before things get going.
I finally got the hang of the Thornes wax renderer and got a good system going of getting the steam up and flicking the cleared frames out after a few minutes and replacing with the next lot (8-10 frames at a time). They only took a few minutes to melt leaving the wire and any wax moth mush or old brood cells to clear off later. I managed to get around 55lbs of wax for exchange – something I had not done before.
As I had over the 50lbs threshold I could get a better exchange rate at Thornes. I called upon the services of Maurice Jordan for advice and we went upto Thornes together with a combined wax volume of over 74 lbs. I did not know the difference between exchange or conversion and had just considered exchange only. Maurice then pointed out the error in my ways and said conversion was better – for a few pence for the melt down and rewire the sheet rate was considerably more advantageous – and boy was he right! It was two trollies back to the van. Yes it had cost a bit for the conversion costs and when I got back I spent sometime working it all out on an excel spreadsheet to see how the costs worked. You most definitely are better off by 25% on the conversion I had to work it all out to believe it. I hadn’t planned to have so many packs of super foundation and of course the corresponding frames and time to put them all together. But a nice problem to have.
I have built all the new boxes for the next season and am working through the frame building at the moment leaving the foundation out until its needed, I don’t think I will go short!
I did a round of stores checking and Oxybee squirting all seemed to go well although applying the liquid through a syringe was a bit tricky at times especially getting the right dosage in the right place. A couple of overwintered polynucs are getting big already I may have to add some space to them on the next visit.
I am off to Neil Ponts dipping tanks with around 30 boxes of super and brood frames plus some queen excluders for the boiling pot of washing soda and bleach. Not experienced this before so should be interesting. Then there is any final frame clean up and stacking back into scorched boxes ready for wax foundation at the right moment in the season.
Its been a very busy month with a continuation into February of more of the same.