Sunday, 31 January 2016

Happy bees = Happy people!!

bee foraging, planting, pollinators, insects, food chain, honey bees.

It's not just about the bees, some of these aren't what the honey bees need but the bumble bees and the solitary bees do and after all we want to help all the pollinating insects. After all happy pollinators make healthy pollinators who become reproductive pollinators. The more pollinators out there then the better our crops!!!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Grantham Districts Beginners beekeeping Course

Lincolnshire Beekeepers' Association
(Reg. Charity No. 500360)


Are you interested in keeping bees?

Or just keen to explore the idea?

We will be running a;

Beginners’ bee keeping course in Grantham starting in April 2016. Cost: £70

Five, weekly evening sessions about the history of beekeeping and how to; manage a 
colony of bees, control swarms and treat for pests and diseases followed by two 
practical sessions where you will learn how to make a bee hive and look inside at the 
bees at work.

Contact Catherine Sheen on 01400 281481
Or to book your place

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Happy New Year, Oxalic Acid, and Bye Varroa Mites!!!

So Firstly I would like to wish a Happy New Year to all our readers. Hopefully 2016 will be a year full of honey and happy healthy bees.

To get my bees off to a good healthy start for 2016 I have given the a treatment of Oxalic Acid which was done on the first of the year!!

I have never used Oxalic Acid before but it is a treatment to help remove varroa mites and I know that the bees always need all the help they can get so I was more than willing to give it a try. If you are a new reader and don't know about the varroa mites or want to remind yourself about them then just go here to find out more.

Stewart, a fellow beekeeper and member of Grantham District Beekeepers came over to show me how to administer the Oxalic Acid as he used it last year to great effect and so I would like to thank him now for his help in showing me this very simple procedure.

Not knowing much about Oxalic Acid I did have a search for further info so if you would like to know more this was a great place loaded with info but is quite technical in places. Also this refers to getting the oxalic Acid in crystal form and mixing it yourself where as at Thornes you can buy it ready mixed and in a very easy to use container at a great price.

Oxalic Acid, pre-mixed by thornes, fool proof, measuring container
Oxalic Acid
Thornes mix there Oxalix Acid on site and guarantee it's dates. Please note; Oxalic Acid has a VERY short shelf life so make sure when purchasing you do so from a reputable dealer. ( I have seen it for sale on ebay but I think for something like this I would stick to going somewhere I can collect myself and know it is mixed to quantities that are not going to harm the bees, obviously this is personal preference and it will be your choice, should you choose to use it, where you purchase from). 

In the bottles above that Thornes sell it is a foolproof administration of the acid. This is a winter treatment that was done, it does state that Oxalic Acid can be given during summer months but winter is better when there are no brood for the mites to hide in so therefore giving you a much higher 'mite kill' and also not affecting any honey stores.

Although it seems very wrong to open up the hives on a cold day you are in and out very quick with minimal disturbance to the bees, no more than 'minutes' per hive.

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Stewart squeezing the dose into the chamber,
this cannot be overfilled and is the
correct dose for one seem.

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Opening up the hives, the temperature
outside was about 3 degrees celsius.

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
The bees came for a little investigation
but remained calm and clustered
throughout process.

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Each 5 ml squeezed into the aperture
was enough for one seem so it is simply,
fill, dribble, refill next seem.

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Here you can see the bees tightly packed in
their cluster.
The bottle photographed above is enough for two full hives so make sure you don't buy too much as it will quickly go out of date and you will have wasted your money. We had three hives to do, my two and then Annabels hive which was the other side of the allotments.

It was a very chilly day and you soon feel it but with it being so cold we didn't need to worry about smokers or being kitted up too tightly.

Within 15 minutes of entering the allotments we were leaving again and then included locating hive tools, getting suits on and off and also going over to put Oxalic Acid on Annabels hive.

So has the treatment been a success??? I would say definitely!!

I was told by Stewart that there is some bee mortality but not a huge amount and nothing compared to the varroa. I have since heard from stewart who has told me that his varroa count was in the hundreds. I have also checked the varroa floors from mine and Annabels hives and they are also in the hundreds!!

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Hive 1

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Hive 2

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Annabel's hive
As you can see from above there are plenty of mites on the varroa floors. All of these floors were scrubbed, oiled and replaced just after treatment occurred. I do think it's funny how the bees in hives 1 & 2 have decided to cluster on opposites sides of their hives even though they are facing the same way. Annabel's have clustered more to the middle of the hive.

For those of you who are unsure on wht the varroa mite looks like here are a couple of close ups of the mites.

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Varroa mites from hive 1

varroa mites, the bee destroyer, oxalic acid, mite eradicator
Varroa Mites from Annabel's hive.

With such a good outcome from using the oxalic acid and the ease of administration I will definitely use it again next year. It will be interesting to see in the summer if my bees seem in better health due to this extra treatment and also if the varroa drop is less next winter.