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Autumn Bee – Behaviour Changes

This is the time of the year when our normally happy bees often become very grumpy and defensive about us opening up the hive.

They now have all their stores to defend and they are under constant attack by wasps and robber bees. We are included on the list when we come along and remove their honey and return the wet supers above the cover board!

Reducing the entrance of the hive is essential and returning wet supers at night will also discourage robbing and reduce stress.

We have however, had a few beekeepers made quite nervous about the change in their bees behaviour and worried about
possible stings to neighbours and their pets.

Please contact us before you get too stressed about this as we are here to help and will do so!

Anne-Chantal or any committee member.

Chalk Brood

Chalk Brood has persisted in both Hive 1 (WBC) and 1b (14 X 12), both hives originating from Hive 1  (14 X 12).  Incidence has reduced in Hive 1 since removal to WBC.

Chalk Brood is caused by the fungal organism Ascosphaera apis.

Three stages in appearance – Initially  white & fluffy;   Secondly swollen, filling the cells, the larval mouthparts may appear as a yellow protrusion; Finally, the stage most easily identified, they mummify, shrinking & hardening, changing colour to grey and black.  It is  at the final stage, when the fungus is sporulating and at its most contagious,  that the bees can easily remove the mummies from the cells and drop them on the floor of the hive

Chalk brood is a fungus and by nature likes damp conditions.  Keep the hives dry by raising them off the ground and  using  Open Mesh Floors.
It is known that high levels of carbon dioxide in a colony aggravates chalk brood.
Nutrition is important. Don’t let the colony run short of food at any time and make sure there is plenty of pollen.
Keep colonies strong in the ratio of bees to brood. Resist any manipulation that will result in a low number of adults, e.g. making up a nucleus and leaving it in the same apiary where some bees will fly home.  Resist transferring brood from hives with a chalk brood problem to other colonies.

Bees Abroad

Members attending the 6 January 2018 winter talk were fortunate to hear Geoff Redwood’s presentation on the work of the charity Bees Abroad.
Geoff is the Chair of Farnham Beekeepers and works with Bees Abroad as a volunteer.  The charity was formed in 1999 and aims to provide training and education in beekeeping skills in developing countries.  Projects are primarily undertaken in Africa but work has been undertaken in other areas including Nepal and South America.   Projects are designed to be appropriate to the locality, and to enable beekeepers to become self-sufficient.
Together with local NGOs, the charity works with new beekeepers to develop skills such as hive building, apiary set-up, extraction, wax processing and the development of business cases to sell products.   Hive building and apiary set-up is in line with tradition and local practice.
Training presents the additional challenge of dealing with the highly defensive African honeybee and for a host of predators unfamiliar to beekeepers in the UK, including honey badgers, snakes and reptiles.  Colonies tend to be smaller and may swarm five or six times a year.  Varroa and disease is therefore less of a problem but honey yield may be smaller.
For more information or to support the charity, please see the charity’s website www.beesabroad.co.uk, or email info@beesabroad.co.uk.

Winter Beekeeping – January in the Apiary

Although the weather may be too cold and wet for bees to be active, there are still a number of things to do in the apiary to make sure both bees and beekeepers are well-prepared for a flying start when Spring arrives.    Members who attended the 6 January winter meeting were given some useful hints and tips by Brian Herbert.
~ Check hives for rodents, woodpecker and storm damage.
~ Check stores.  Either heft the hive or, if the weather is mild, check for stores in the top of the super or brood.
~If feeding is required, make sure you have sufficient fondant.  This can either be bought from beekeeping suppliers or baking wholesalers, or home-made. If making your own, recipes are available on a number of websites.
~If in doubt, add fondant but make sure this is removed as the season begins.
~Examine and clean all spare equipment.  Propolis is easier to remove in colder temperatures.
~Check stored comb and boxes regularly for wax moth.  Either treat frames and supers with acetic acid, or freeze.  Badly damaged frames should be burnt.  Note that acetic acid corrodes metal, so all metal parts should be removed before treatment.
~Consider whether you want to treat with oxalic acid and if so, whether the trickle or vapour method is to be used.   Note that for treatment to be effective, the colony must be broodless.   A broodless period can be encouraged by allowing sufficient airflow in the hive.
~Plan for the forthcoming season.  How do you intent to manage swarms? Do you want to increase the number of colonies?  Do you intent to do a full comb change early in the season?
~Check whether you have enough equipment.  As a rough guide, it may be useful to have three supers and a spare brood box for each hive.

Dancing

As an extension to the Winter Training Talk occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping, the first session aimed at the Proficient level was held on Wednesday 29th November 2017 at the Petersfield Community Centre, 7:15.

Presented by: Brad Davis

The areas covered included:

  • Waggle Dance
  • Round Dance
  • Sickle Dance
  • Shake (DVAV) Dance
  • Tremble Dance
  • Beep Dance
  • Buzz Run
  • Jostling Run
  • Spasmodic Dance
  • Grooming Dance
  • Washboarding

Slides

More Than Honey

Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the ninth session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping was held on Saturday 28th October 2017 at the Petersfield Community Centre, 7:15.

Presented by: Brad Davis

The areas covered included:

  • Wax
  • Pollen
  • Venom
  • Propolis
  • Queens
  • Nucleus Colonies
  • Packages

Hive Design; Equipment; Stings; Aggressive Colonies

Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the eighth session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping was held on Wednesday 4th October 2017 at the Petersfield Community Centre, 7:15.
Presented by: Brad Davis
The areas covered included:

  • Stings
  • Aggressive Colonies
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Equipment & Hygiene
  • Hive Design
    • Beespace
    • Types of Hive

Click here for slides

Foraging

Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the sixth session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping was held on Wednesday 23rd November 2016 at the Petersfield Community Centre, 7:30 start.

Presented by: Brad Davis

The areas covered included:

  • Benefit of local forage crops
  • The special requirements of some crops
  • Undesirable sources of honey
  • The composition of nectar
  • Source and characteristics of honeydew
  • Conversion of nectar to honey
  • The use of pollen to identify honey
  • Other forage, water, pollen and propolis

Slides

Swarm Prevention & Control

Carrying on the Improver Training sessions, the fifth session of the occasional series aimed at improving knowledge and understanding of beekeeping was held on Wednesday 26th October 2016 at the Petersfield Community Centre.
Presented by: Brian Herbert

The areas covered included:

  • Biology of Swarming
  • Preparation for Swarming
  • Swarm Prevention
  • Basic Elements of Swarm Control
  • Swarm Control Methods
  • Taking and Hiving a Swarm

Slides