Saturday, 29 March 2014

Busy, buzzy, bees

Well spring really has sprung again this weekend and with the sudden rise in temperature again the bees have been extremely active on the allotment today.

What I also noticed today was that they were flying in three different directions so are getting plenty of nectar and pollen and bringing in different colours and shades so collecting form a variety of plants. I really do need to look in my books so that I can have more idea on what they are working on.

Happy bees bringing in pollen and nectar.
Happy bees bringing in pollen and nectar.

Bees having a buzz
Bees having a buzz

Busy, busy, pollen and nectar going in!!
Busy, busy, pollen and nectar going in!!

Yellow bee covered in pollen dust to the right.
Yellow bee covered in pollen dust to the right.

A lot of activity at the poly hive, different pollen going in.
A lot of activity at the poly hive, different pollen going in.

Pollen dropped off on the landing board.
Pollen dropped off on the landing board.

Can you see all the bee activity in the air??
Can you see all the bee activity in the air??
The poly hive looks a lot more active than the others but I think this is mainly due to the hive entrance being more restricted. This has now been rectified so that more bees can enter and exit freely.

All the above photos were taken before midday. I went in the hives as well and caught up with Jez and Roy at their hives but I'll tell you about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Last night's fun . . . .

 . . . . used to be the name of an excellent folk band which is no more.  However, the final monthly meeting of this session more than made up for that, many many thanks to John for his beautiful photographs (and to Jez and Roy for the commentary on the individual shots.)  John also won the raffle, marred only by me forgetting to bring the prize, so John I have a lovely big box of biscuits for you when we can arrange to get it to you.

No more monthly meetings now until September but the course starts next week.  Perhaps existing members would like to come along to the final session to meet up and extol the virtues of joining the District.  (You might have to pay for your own sandwiches though but don't get me started on that!)  I'll email in due course.

There will be open apiaries, Stewart, Steve & Elaine, Roy, Jez and myself have offered to host and there is usually a little social occasion (Jez says tea and biscuits inside away from any disgruntled bees) afterwards.  Ollie is planning to arrange a couple of BBQs so offers of venues welcome.  Dates will be emailed out once we have a clear fix on what the weather is likely to be but they will probably be on Sundays, starting in May.

Don't forget that the bees will be even more shocked and disappointed at the down turn in the temperature than we are.  Its too cold to mess much with them but if you get a bright spell, check - if they are congregating around the top of the crown board, get some fondant on.  I changed the fondant for syrup on mine and am now kicking myself as its harder for them to process the excess moisture in the cold.  There are no more boxes of fondant left but I can let you have a couple of 2.5 kgs bags if any one is in desperate need.  OSR is already starting to bloom in some areas though so its clearly going to be a very different start compared to last year. 

Keep in touch, remember we have this blog and the Facebook page, Grantham Beekeepers -  lots of interesting items and of course even more interesting if you all put photos and stories about your bees on. 
Also the BBKA website where Lincolnshire of course has its own page.

Finally don't forget the Lincoln District's auction of all things bee, this Saturday, starting at 11.00 at the Lincolnshire showground.  Get there early to check out the state of everything and make sure you do your research first so you know what the price would be just to buy it new and unused - that goes for colonies too.  Don't get too carried away with the excitement of bidding!


Catherine Sheen
Secretary, Grantham District LBKA

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Varroa control

Well Mr Chairman said we should be thinking about putting out varroa boards back in so that we can check for varroa levels.

Before I go any further I think it would be a good idea to say a little about varroa for all those readers who aren't bee-keepers yet or never will be but are just interested in the drivel that I write here and so come along for a this will be a little crash course in what varroa is!!

The Varroa mite.

Varroa  is an external parasitic mite that attacks the honey bees Apis cerana and Apis mellifera. The disease caused by the mites is called varroosis.
Varroa destructor can only reproduce in a honey bee colony. It attaches to the body of the bee and weakens the bee by sucking 'blood'. In this process, viruses such as the deformed wing virus (DWV) spread to bees. A significant mite infestation will lead to the death of a honey bee colony, usually in the late autumn through early spring. The Varroa mite is the parasite with the most pronounced economic impact on the beekeeping industry


Reproduction, infection and hive mortality.

Mites reproduce on a 10-day cycle. The female mite enters a honey bee brood cell. As soon as the cell is capped, the Varroa mite lays eggs on the larva. The young mites, typically several females and one male, hatch in about the same time as the young bee develops and leave the cell with the host. When the young bee emerges from the cell after pupation, the Varroa mites also leave and spread to other bees and larvae. The mite preferentially infests drone cells.
The adults suck the "blood" (hemolymph) of adult honey bees for sustenance, leaving open wounds. The compromised adult bees are more prone to infections. With the exception of some resistance in the Russian strains and bees with varroa-sensitive hygiene genes developed by the USDA, the European Apis mellifera bees are almost completely defenseless against these parasites.

I am sure there will be a few things here some of you are unfamiliar with (me included to be honest!!) but you can find out all about it on Wikipedia here where links will help you understand the more complex aspects if you want to go into it a little further.

So how big are these little blood suckers which we have to look out for then??

varroa mite on bee larvae
varroa mite on adult worker bee
As you can see from the photos we are searching for a VERY small mite. On the picture above of the larvae it shows up quite well due to the colour but in the picture on the right you can see it's much harder to spot. You can imagine from the photos how small the mites are.

So what I have done this time to try and help the bees rid themselves of the varroa mite?? Well I have tried something based on the report here which we published a while ago to see if I get any benefit from it. After all if I could find a way to help the bees without using chemicals both myself and the bees will be a lot happier.

This report was quite in depth on what to do but the gist of it was that the varroa don't like garlic so taking this in layman's terms I have replaced my varroa floors with some crushed garlic on them.

varroa floor with crushed garlic
Varroa floor with crushed garlic
So I cleaned up the varroa floors, added a little crushed garlic and then put them in the hive. Now I just have to keep an eye on them to see what the drop of the mite is onto the floor as to whether or not I need to do something more drastic about the mite.

One problem I did find with this was that on the 'poly' hive the floor fits quite closely to the frame of the hive and so kept pushing the garlic off. So I am going to make some garlic infused oil as I use oil on my varroa floor as then when the mite drops they stick where they are so to infuse some oil with garlic will hopefully have some effect too. Obviously right now I can't say whether this is effective but I will be able to monitor over the year if I treat one hive and not another and compare differences.

Don't think the bees are overly keen on the garlic smell as it certainly made the hive lively and brought a few out for investigations although they were nice and calm about it.

bees come out to investigate
As soon as I put the garlic covered varroa floor in bees
started to come out the hive to investigate.
No aggressive behaviour form them though.

So this was a week ago and I was hoping to check today but with the unpredictable weather I thought it was best to wait. The bees have been very happy with the weather bringing in lots of pollen and enjoying their flights. It has been wonderful to see them not just leaving and returning the hive but seeing them in other parts of the allotment's too.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Urging people to get a buzz from beekeeping.

Well as we are trying to get more members for our group which will therefore bring in more funds which will then give all memebrs more opportunites we are doing all we can in the way of advertising and just last week steve  and Roy had an interview with the Newark advertiser. It's a great read so go and check it out here.

Mr Steve Beeching, right, and Mr Roy Parker, of Grantham and District Beekeepers’ Association, check a hive
 Steve (right) and Roy (left), check a hive
Great photo and great article.

Well done you two!!

Friday, 14 March 2014

Gravity FM Heritage Project - Grantham District Beekeepers

Gravity FM's Ela Watts with the Grantham District Beekeepers

Thanks Ela.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Bees making the most of the warm March sun.

    Not quite as enthusiastic as the other two hives about the sunshine.

 Not quite as enthusiastic as the other two hives about the sunshine.
Buzzing around the poly Hive entrance.

Buzzing around the poly Hive entrance.
Bees to the west of this were slower to emerge.

A lot of activity at this hive...this is the hive furthest east and so gets the sun first. This actually shows in the amount of bees out. As the sun warms the hives more bees were coming out to play!!

Well you can't stop at just one photo can you!!

Oh look and here's The bees took me a bit by surprise about being out and the photos were taken on my rather archaic phone. Next time I visit though I will have my camera at the ready!!

I wondered initially what the noise was...then I remembered that bees buzz when they are happy!!!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Natural Varroa Treatment????

Sent to me by Mr Chairman to publish...... 

So what do you think?? Are you willing to give it a try?? If so which would be your preferred method?

(Right click and open in a new tab to see larger and easier to read view).