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John the BeeMan's Blog - Feb 2015 - Apiary update & February jobs

Apiary Up-Date

I took the opportunity, during a cold spell, to move a hive that I had used for swarms last year and kept it well away from the others just in case they had any disease.   They are now next to the other colonies.   Moving hives can be done when the bees are unlikely to fly for at least a week, and to make sure, it helps to disorientate them if some debris such as twigs and leaves are used to semi-block the entrance.

The candy I put over the crown boards has been started by some and ignored by others.   This can be established by a hole opening up in the centre, showing through the plastic covering, as the bees eat their way into it.

Candy block that the bees have started to eat
Wire mesh nailed to the top of the pallet
Candy block that the bees have started to eat
Wire mesh nailed to the top of the pallet

The wooden pallets that I used under the hives have proved very slippery, so I have stapled wire mesh over them.   This technique is often used on bridges and duck boards along public footpaths and is very effective.

I’ve just taken delivery of 50 x 14” x 12” brood frames and foundation, making use of Thorne’s winter sale of seconds.   One extra benefit from this is the large quantity of shredded cardboard packing used around them that is great for the smoker.   The frames work out at about £2.20 per completed frame.   I took 20 to my Cemetery apiary, ready for exchanging old black brood frames with them.   I try to renew at least 3 or 4 per colony each spring.

New frames and foundation from Thornes
New frames and foundation from Thornes

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February jobs

  • Prepare equipment for coming season: All spare hive bits and pieces should be cleaned of propolis and wax, repaired if needed and then blow-torched or sterilised with strong solution of washing soda if they are plastic.
  • Drawn comb: can be sterilised by fumigating with 85% acetic acid which will also kill wax moth eggs and larvae.
  • Clean equipment will then be ready for colonies to be shook swarmed or Bailey comb changed.   (Our website has information sheets on both of these)
  • Wax moth: If any comb (either brood or honey) has been attacked by wax moth, it is probably sensible to either burn them or change them with new foundation.

On Warm days, 10 degrees C +, have a quick external inspection:

  • Forage? See if the flying bees are returning with pollen, always a good sign that the queen is laying.   The likely flowers are winter flowering honeysuckle, clematis and prunus.   Witchhazel is another flowering shrub that will attract the bees and also Snowdrops, Catkins generally, Aconites, Crocus, hellebores.
  • Examine the outside of the hive, look for signs of dysentery.   If the bees have Nosema Apis, this is a sure sign, although there is little you can do about it at this time of the year.   However, a complete change of brood frames as soon as the colony expands will certainly help.
  • Lift the roof and check if it is damp underneath, if so, replace it with a dry one.
Snowdrop
Crocus
Snowdrop
Crocus

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