Ted Hooper’s five questions – as described in his book ‘Guide to Bees and Honey’ were devised to walk the beekeeper through his or her weekly inspections. The first 5 columns in the Colony Assessment Sheet are there for you record the answers.
Take a look at this frame of bees above – yes there are several things there that should put you on alert!
What you do, or don’t do, in response is the essence of beekeeping. Continue reading Hooper’s Five Questions
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:
Bee improvement is not difficult – anybody can do it and in fact every beekeeper should do it. The first step is to assess your colonies for a full season and record the data in a Colony Assessment Sheet. It will take a full season because the bees often do not show their true colours till they are big and strong and start to throw their weight about. Once you have the data you can compare colonies systematically and objectively then select stocks for breeding and stocks for culling.
The sheet below has been designed to record both Colony Assessment Data and routine beekeeping information from each visit. Click it for a better view. Scroll down and I’ll walk you through it…
Continue reading Honey Bee Colony Assessment
The most common scenarios when you might want to unite two colonies of bees include:
- When one of them is queenless;
- When one of them has a vile queen and you are about to make them queenless;
- When one or both colonies are too weak in the approach to winter.
Most bee books will tell you to unite the two using the ‘newspaper method’ Continue reading How to unite bees – the Newspaper Method
Once upon a time I used to keep mice. They don’t swarm but they are territorial and they do fight. If you try to introduce two mice, of any or either sex, by simply dropping one into the cage of the other they will fight. However, if you put the two of them together in a third cage they will get along like a house on fire. This is what I call ‘the third box principle’ and the same thing applies with bees.
Before we go any further I should state that the Third Box Principle is not an explanation of bee behaviour but it is a mental model which helps the beekeeper to ‘put a handle’ on what is observed. It is also a particularly helpful thing to know when you are in the thick of the latest bee conundrum and wondering what the hell to do next – it can give you extra options.
Here are some useful things to do with it:
Continue reading How to unite bees – the Third Box Principle
Oxalic acid is a very effective treatment for Varroa but only during broodless periods when the kill rate can be above 90%. When brood is present the kill rate is closer to 30% as most of the Varroa are in the brood where this acid cannot reach them. Click here for more on oxalic acid.
For this reason oxalic acid tends to be used during the mid-winter broodless period – if there is one!
However, winter is not the only time bees are broodless and oxalic acid can also be used during summer broodless periods when the Varroa are phoretic (out and about on the bees).
Imagine a swarm…
Continue reading Summer Oxalic Acid Varroa Treatment
There are many reasons during the course of the season why you might need to replace a queen bee. She could have become a drone layer, you may have killed her by accident or it could be that the bees need to be improved by the addition of a new queen with better genes. Whatever the reason, you can’t just put her in because they will almost certainly kill her – although I have known cases where clipped queens have fallen to the ground in failed swarming attempts and have then made their way back up the stand legs and into the front door of a queenless neighbour! Continue reading Quick queen-bee introduction – Matchbox Method
There was a great flow this May (2014) and there is a heavy crop of hawthorn honey on board – a once in 5 year occurrence in these parts. Hawthorn pollen is a pale cream colour but you’ll know if you’ve got hawthorn honey because you will smell it!
Click here for ‘Bee Trees – Hawthorn‘
Here’s a photo of a hawthorn bee with pollen, click it for a better view
When there is this much honey from an early flow it’s best to take at least some of it off if only to spare the beekeeper’s back. Take only the sealed honey if possible, that way you’ll leave some for the bees in the June gap.
If, however, you suspect there may be rape in amongst it – you have no choice – you will have to take the lot off. If they have no feed below you should rapid feed a gallon or so of strong syrup but take the supers off first or they’ll put it in there.
Alternatively you could place a lump of fondant or better still Ambrosia (special bee fondant made with inverted sugar) over the feed hole. They won’t put this in the supers but if they need it – it’s there and it will also pull the bees straight up in to the supers which might help prevent overcrowding → swarming etc.
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The artificial swarm is the most common way of dealing with a hive which is preparing to swarm but for it to be successful, the bees need to be quite well advanced along that road.
Ideally (and this is important) your hive will have cells which are close to being capped. If not it would be best if possible to leave them for another few days. Detailed verbiage next or scroll to the bottom of the page for diagrammatic nutshell and links to multimeeja:
The beekeeper’s smoker is seen as an essential piece of equipment; it is certainly the most effective way of putting manners on the bees but it is not always either appropriate or necessary. Consider for a moment the lion tamer – he doesn’t rush at his animals jabbing away with his chair but if he needs them, his whip and his chair are at hand; the beekeeper should view his smoker the same way. Continue reading Beekeeping without Smoke