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.