of the hives have now been spring-cleaned. A freshly scorched box,
floor, entrance block and crown board are positioned alongside the
hive and frames are removed one by one, inspected, scraped clean and
placed in the new box. Halfway through the exercise, boxes are
exchanged whilst they are easier to lift, and the remaining frames
moved across. Hopefully the queen will be seen and the egg laying
rate assessed. Unfortunately the first hive I did this year had a
drone-laying queen. How could I tell? The larvae and brood in
worker-size cells had domed cappings like full-sized drone brood.
The quickest and easiest way to rescue what remained of the colony
was to unite rapidly. The whole colony was shaken out during the
afternoon and the workers wasted no time in seeking refuge in the
the time of cleaning, the Apivar has been removed as the weekly
varroa counts have dropped to zero or the odd 1.
has been the month when the world was hit by the CV19 virus. Not
only were supermarkets hit by panic buying but honey sales as well.
In four days I sold an average month’s number of jars. No sooner
had I instituted rationing and put a notice in the porch to that
effect than the government introduced a lock-down so sales ceased.
foragers are more interested in pollen rather than nectar. The hives
I’ve cleaned still have loads of honey stores but are in need of
pollen for brood food. I’ve removed several nice clean frames full
of honey and replaced them with drawn comb in order to give more
laying capacity. The honey-full combs are being sterilized and will
be used as food for any swarms.
Dartington hive is finished. I’ve cut some letter-box slots for
the varroa tray and finished painting it. Supers will have to wait
as doing real beekeeping now calls.
Work continues in both the apiary and
had no long cold spell again this winter. Maybe climate change means
they are a thing of the past?
Never-the-less oxalic acid treatment had to be done, brood or no brood. Total drop varied from 570 down to 70 which I didn’t think was too bad. There was still a small natural drop the following week so I’ve followed up with an Apivar treatment.
of dull cloudy and cold weather has kept the bees confined to hive
but a morning sunshine early in the month brought them out. It
wasn’t just cleansing flights either. The aroma of the winter
honeysuckle was hanging like a cloud around the shrub and the girls
were foraging madly. I have at long last succeeded in getting some
winter aconite to grow in the damson copse and their gloriously
yellow blooms were a real magnet. No aconite in the spinney yet
which is a real disappointment
Dartington Long-hive continues (unapace) to grow steadily. I have
tried to do a little each day through the winter. The brood box is
now finished, the roof is assembled and it is all ready for proofing.
Honeyboxes and insulated dummy-boards can be gradually completed
throughout the spring. The former are of course not vital as I can
always use conventional supers if necessary.
honey DNA testing results have come back from the CEH (Centre for
Ecology and Hydrology). Some results were as expected but there were
some surprises as well. The three varieties of open-pollenated rape
were the main leaders in the spring and they showed up quite
distinctly. The surprise was a noticeable content of sycamore. The
spinney, which is only a third of an acre, consists of sycamore and
elm 50:50 about twenty five years old but already yielding well.
Unfortunately sycamore is an alien species and everyone I’ve
consulted about the spinney’s future has said “You can get those
out!”. We’ll see.