Tag Archives: Maintainance

Christmas – Bees and Wintering

Christmas is one of the four quarter days which mark the changing of the seasons.

The four quarter days are:

  • Lady day or the Feast of the Annunciation 25th March;
  • Midsummer’s day around 25th June;
  • Michaelmas 29th September;
  • Christmas 25th December – lest we forget. Fat chance.

They all approximately coincide with either an equinox or a solstice.

Continue reading Christmas – Bees and Wintering

Storm Damage

It hardly seems fair, after surviving all those terrible storms of January and February, that this huge oak branch should drop from the tree last Saturday (1st March)! The more avid bots and crawlers amongst you may recognise this apiary from a previous post of a sunny glade and the same hives with lots of honey on board.

But weren’t we lucky! Our farmer noticed the branch had dropped and let us know quite quickly – it only broke one hive and we rescued the bees.

Crushed Polystyrene Hive

First sight was horrific but closer examination showed only one hive seriously damaged – a polystyrene one. Part of the branch landed on the roof, breaking the hives stand and the front wall of the poly box popped out under the pressure followed by the first frame. Somehow the rest of the frames stayed in place and the bees were actively coming and going when we arrived to rescue them.

Another part of the same branch landed on a wooden hive (the white one near the centre of the main picture) and the metal top of the roof buckled a bit but managed to survive the blow intact. Polystyrene hives are certainly not as strong as wooden ones but in fairness, this one still had the strength to hold together somehow despite a blow strong enough to break the wooden hive stand.

The moral of this story is to keep checking your hives throughout the winter because sometimes storm damage doesn’t come to full fruition till some time after the event.

Copyright © Beespoke.info, 2014.  All Rights Reserved.

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

Frame Assembly – Good

This is how to assemble a frame properly but don’t do this too early or your wax will go off:

FrameAssembly1Remove the wedge cleanly or it won’t sit properly when you put the wax in. It doesn’t matter too much with wired wax, but if you’re using unwired wax the wedge won’t grip it properly. If necessary shave the area clean with a nice sharp chisel. Continue reading Frame Assembly – Good

Frame Assembly – Bad

Copyright © Beespoke.info, 2014. All Rights Reserved.

Panel pin incorrectly nailed through both bottom bars

You know – it is so irritating when you’re stripping down frames and discover that they’ve been put together wrongly. It’s usually one of three mistakes – or all of them, as in this frame.

First of all, don’t use panel pins – they’re too thick, they’ll split the wood and they’ll rust. Instead use proper 10mm lacquered frame nails or gimp pins available from beekeeping suppliers.

Don’t put a nail sideways through both bottom bars. Why? Because when you come to take it apart you won’t be able to remove that pin unless you chisel away at the wood so you can get hold of it with pincers. And unless you do remove that pin – it will obstruct the channel that your new sheet of wax is destined to slide into. Instead nail downwards into the endgrain of the side bar and towards the top bar. The bottom bars don’t support any weight so they won’t come adrift and you can tap them out with a hammer when you need to.

Panel pin piercing the top bar

Thirdly, don’t nail straight through the wedge into the top bar – your pin will almost certainly come out the other side and every time you try to clean that top bar your hive tool will come up against the points.


Correct Assembly
Correctly assembled frame


Wax-moth Hell

This is the time of year for scraping down the stack of equipment that got thrown into the shed during the active season – I know this because that’s what I’ve been doing this afternoon. Once started I realise why it takes so long to get down to it because it really isn’t nice. Not nice at all.

There should be a course -‘Entomology for Beekeepers’ because the assortment of creepy crawlies to be found in the detritus at the bottom of a beehive is bewildering and horrifying – like Doctor Who with maggots. Continue reading Wax-moth Hell