I wonder if the mild autumn meant that the bees continued breeding well into November allowing the varroa to also continue breeding. Whatever the reason I must apply the 3.2% oxalic acid syrup treatment as soon as the weather cools down to around 3 to 6 degrees C. I've checked on the Met Office website and was able to apply the oxalic acid treatment and have now checked again on mite drop 24 hours later. This amounted to between 25 and 55 mites per hive. I had expected more than this?
Feed candy /fondant
The one winter idea that has stuck with me since I first learnt about beekeeping, is to give the colony a Christmas present of either candy or icing fondant. (To make candy, boil 1Kg of white granulated sugar in 1/2 pint of water until it reaches soft-ball temperature on a cooking thermometer, about 230 degrees C).
Without having to check your bees each week, I suggest that you allocate time to read about the subject. There are many books you can choose from, including ones on practical beekeeping, diseases, alternative methods and history. There are several mentions of bees and honey in the bible and other holy books. Old books on beekeeping can be a fascinating insight into past ways of controlling the bees and harvesting honey.
I was given “A Sting in the Tale” by Dave Goulson for Christmas. This author is a mine of information on natural history generally, but has specialised in bumble bees, working for Sussex University, alongside Prof Ratnicks, the expert in honey bees. I've only just started it and am already entranced.
Attend to any gardening around the hives and plan new bee friendly plants
There have been many articles in the BBKA News and BeeCraft on plants for bees. In reality, these will benefit bumble bees more that honey bees unless they are planted in large quantities. Even so, well worth the effort.
The Thorne’s Sale is about to be announced
Their seconds equipment is worth considering, especially brood frames.
John’s Blogs for 2015
I have decided that these Blogs will be monthly, with a brief report on my bees and what I have been up to with them.
I have compiled a list of beekeeping subjects that are relevant to each month and will give you my thoughts on them. I hope that these will be interesting and I ask you to send me comments that I can report back on, ready for the next Blog. Remember, all beekeepers will have their own variations on how they work our bees.
Go to John's Blog main page