from Jacqui and me to this record of our experiences as new beekeepers in The Marches.

Search This Blog

Sunday, 31 January 2010

more mites

Some sunny spells and milder temperatures (up to 9C) had bees out flying this week but they soon hurried back to the cluster when snow showers started. Today I made the first check of the floor since last Sunday. Counted 87 mites making an averange drop of just over 12 per day. Wax dust indicated that the workers had been using stores.
So ends a January of true Winter. Good crop of snowdrops showing white but not yet open. Forecast is for more cold weather so I can leave well alone and get on with installing a new floor in the shed.
My first attempts at wax extraction from some old frames demonstrate just how much I have to learn. Some wax is recovered but I have a way to go before I achieve reasonable efficiency. Meantime I have enough to wax the kitchen drawers.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

more Varroa

Mite drop counts for the last two days are 73 and 62 respectively. There has been some mid-day sun on the hive on each day with the result that a few bees have been flying. First snowdrops are beginning to appear in the garden.

Friday, 22 January 2010

varroa monitoring

Today the temperature has reached 9c. Mite drop count 142 making the total for 4 days of 1035. Today there were some wax flakes on the floor indicating some feeding activity in the hive. Housekeeping continues with 9 dead bees by the entrance. Steady rain/drizzle has kept the bees inside.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Varroa update

Having once again trudged through the melting snow to collect the floor tray I find the mite drop count for the past 24hrs to be 118.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Varroa treatment

Temp reached 8c last Sunday 17th, dry with some sun. Hamish took the opportunity to call round to show me how to apply Oxalic acid. The hive (a National) setup is a super well filled with stores over a brood box with no Queen excluder. There were plenty of bees all located in the brood box. After treatment using syringe to trickle sugar based solution at 5ml per seam of bees, we closed up without further inspection. During about the next hour some workers were seen on cleansing flights and some housekeeping was observed as 7 dead bees were ejected from the entrance.

The bees were left alone for 24 hours. I then removed the tray from under the mesh floor and cleaned it thoroughly before replacing it and leaving it for a further 24hrs. I then counted the dropped mites - total 473! - again cleaned/replaced the floor. Repeated the procedure and after next 24hrs the count today was 302.

When checked last Sept after Apiguard treatment no mites were seen. At the end of Oct during the warmer period a few mites were seen but not counted. The current high counts therefore come as a surprise.

Yesterday enjoyed an excellent evening talk by Gerry Collins a Master Beekeeper "Queens and Things" organised by Kidderminster, and Hagley and Sourbridge BKAs.

Monday, 18 January 2010


2 years ago retirement brought wife Jacqui and me to Leintwardine in the Marches (Herefordshire/Shropshire border). It is a rural community where we are surrounded by agricultural land and life is directly connected to nature and the seasons.

Jacqui had given me "The Beekeepers Pupil" by Sara George, a work of historical fiction that rekindled my vague but long-held interest in honeybees and beekeeping.

Early 2008 was spent reading and researching theory and practicalities. In September we visited the Ludlow Food Festival and the stall run by Ludlow & District Beekeepers Association (LDBKA) where we signed application forms for an introductory course. In the spring of 2009 we attended a full day theory course and a half day practical where we were able to handle bees at an apiary using borrowed suits. That experience confirmed that we were comfortable both with handling bees and the responsibilities involved. We also knew that we had the backup necessary to make the investment in equipment and bees a reasonable risk so we duly placed our orders. Our hope and intention was, and is, to keep bees as a hobby that will eventually pay for itself.

The story of our our first summer is for another occasion, suffice it to say that we find ourselves starting 2010 with a snow covered hive full of healthy bees waiting for the warmer temperatures of the new season.