Category Archives: Things to do in February

Beekeeping for Beginners Course 2015

The South Kildare Beekeepers Association – ‘Beekeeping for Beginners’ Course starts on Monday 23rd February 2015 at 7.30 in the Church of Ireland Hall, Athy, Co.Kildare.

Includes talks, hands-on practical sessions, honey extraction and SKBA membership.

For further details:

How to improve your bees

There are all sorts of bees for sale out there – Buckfast, Carniolan, Italian, Russian, Greek – you name it but how can they possibly be  better than the locals on their home turf? Think about it, think about the risks in importing diseases and god knows what-all else. Don’t import bees – improve your own.

Click here for more information on the Native Irish Bee.

Here’s how and it isn’t difficult. In fact it’s fun and very rewarding – you will see real results year on year. We used to have some really horrible bees here and only a few hives of them but each year they would chase us round the garden. Now, in the middle of summer I have around 25 hives of bees here and stings are rare.

So make a start this year. Continue reading How to improve your bees

How to Feed a Winter Apidea

If you are overwintering an Apidea you will need to keep a close eye on the stores – especially in a mild winter when the queen may start to lay early. This one in the picture above has a double brood box and was well stocked with ivy honey in autumn but it felt a bit light so I fed it today.  If you are wondering why the air vent is left open – that’s because they have it completely propolised and I don’t want to leave the front door wide open.

Here’s what to do with the feed though: Continue reading How to Feed a Winter Apidea

Winter Losses

It has been a good winter for the bees and there have been very few losses. However, what do you do if you find a hive of your bees has died out?

Well, the first thing to do is find out why they died because whatever killed them could still be lurking in there; if you can pin down the cause of death then you will know what to do with the hive.

Look for the two most obvious things first:

  • Starvation
  • Poor queen

Much will depend on the time of year they died… Continue reading Winter Losses

Hibernating Queen Wasps

Keep an eye out for hibernation queen wasps like these two in your hive roofs during your winter checks.  Note the poor squashed bees – sometimes this is unavoidable.

Hibernating Queen Wasps

What you do with them is up to you –  it’s always a dilemma for me. Remember that each one has the potential to create a huge wasp colony of perhaps 15,000 individuals and if you’ve had real wasp problems in the past you know what this can mean for the bees. However they are great in the garden in the early part of the year and only come into conflict with the bees in the late summer. If the bees are strong and you get your entrances narrowed down in time they will be able to defend themselves.

If there seem to be a lot of them you could prune them.

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Acetic Acid Fumigation

If you have old brood frames it is always a good idea to fumigate them before using them again to kill Nosema spores and wax moth. However,  be sure they don’t come from a hive where the bees died of AFB. If you aren’t sure, or if frames contain patches of old sealed brood it’s probably best to burn them.

If the wax is old and very black it is best to strip these frames down and add fresh foundation in the spring – you’ll seldom find AFB in nice clean frames. Continue reading Acetic Acid Fumigation

Spring Pollen Substitute

This is a recipe for an emergency pollen substitute (adapted from a Scottish Beekeepers recipe) I used last year. It saved  several hives which would otherwise have fizzled out. This is for early spring use  or when they have run out of pollen.

Please note – when bees become very weak they will not take a pollen substitute; they seem to lose the will to live and only sunshine will save them. Continue reading Spring Pollen Substitute

Beeswax Soap Recipe

I used to think that homemade soap would be a great way to use up some of that beeswax mountain. That is until I started to look into the subject and it turns out to be a bit more complicated than I thought.

For a start there’s the matter of Caustic Soda. Note the capital letters there; those are there as a mark of Respect. When using Caustic Soda, be on your Toes because it is a very nasty chemical indeed. Wear gloves, don’t spill it and don’t blame me if you do. Continue reading Beeswax Soap Recipe