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

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Monday, 21 March 2011

The new season starts

Following the Oxalic acid treatment in January I opened the hives on the 12th Feb briefly to check the stores. There had been a few reasonably warm days and the bees had started to take in small amounts of pollen as can be seen in the pic. Hives 1 & 2seemed fine but then on opening number 3 I was confronted by the sad sight of a dead colony. Most bees were lying on the floor but there was also a small cluster dead at the top of one of the frames. Particularly sad was the sight of a young bee that had died as it emerged from its cell as can be seen in the pic. There was plenty of honey in the frames so starvation did not seem to be the problem. On sifting through the bodies I could not find the queen. There had been some very hard frosts so I concluded that there had just not been enough bees to form a cluster large enough to withstand the low temperature.
It happened to be the day of our BKA's AGM so I took a frame along to consult our bee inspector. He pointed out the signs of dysentery which may have accounted for weakened bees.
In case the bees had been infected with the disease Nosema, I removed the hive and fumigated it with Acetic Acid to kill off any disease spores. Thankfully Jacqui does not need our cold frame at present so that was used as the fume box.
On a happier note the remaining two colonies seem to be thriving. I have fed them to encourage the queens into energetic laying. The idea is to fool her into thinking there is a nectar flow on. Since pollen was going in on 12th Feb I can assume that she was laying then. Her eggs take 22 days to produce an emerging worker so there should be new bees in the hive by now. The hope is that we shall have plenty to take adavantage of any early nectar flow in April.
Now I need to brush up on my swarm control plans. Last year I was caught out when they swarmed on 15th May despite cold weather.
By the way we have frogs mating in the pond and plenty of frogspawn. This is great news because there were none last year.