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John the BeeMan's Blog - late June 2014 - Asian Hornets & Honey Extraction

BBKA News (July)

There are several articles of interest here.   The Asian Hornet is still threatening our shores, causing worry to beekeepers.   I understand that they cannot enter a 5mm high entrance.   Some of my entrance blocks have this sized cut-out in the hope that when/if they arrive, my bees will be safe!   Generally, wasps are very similar in size to honey bees.   I was recently showing children dead examples of both, side by side, and it can be quite tricky to tell them apart.

Honey bees compared with wasps
Honey bees compared with wasps

The “Hives for Bees” (page 228) is of interest, only to show that Warre and Top bar hives are highly unsuitable for keeping bees responsibly in urban areas.   Very difficult for swarm control and disease identification.

“More Natural” (page 237) debates whether to treat colonies for varroa.   The answer is 'yes' if you want to give the bees a chance to survive the winter.

Around my Apiaries 24th June

The lime trees and blackberries have certainly providing plenty of nectar with all colonies filling up.   It is only a question as to how long this will continue.   It is the perfect weather for the flow.

I only checked supers and space for honey storage this time and was able to put clearer boards on 3 colonies for 1 super each, with an empty super below the board.   I am now out of spare supers until I have extracted the honey.   There were many full supers that were not yet sealed.   This was very much so at Murphy’s with each hive having 3 supers, all basically full.   I must take my refractometer and check the water content.   This should enable me to remove some of the honey if it is ripe enough.

Every inspection of the brood chamber causes damage that the bees have to repair, using up precious time that could be spent on more productive jobs in the hive.   There is no need to check the brood after new queens have established their laying pattern at this time of the year.   Perhaps once a month just to see that all is well.

The swarm is building up well with brood and honey, filling all 5 frames in the nuc.   This is typical of prime swarms, so I united it with the remaining nuc, having taken out the old queen.   I used my horizontal method for this.   I have great hopes for this colony.   The brood frame (on new foundation) below is from the swarm colony only 2 weeks after I collected it.


Brood comb on new foundation (see where the wires are?)
Mature brood
Brood comb on new foundation (see where the wires are?)
Mature brood

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Honey harvest?

With 7 productive colonies and limited supers, this is the time I start to harvest their honey.   As I have my own extractor, I can do this little by little.   So far I have spun 2 x 3 supers, 50lbs & 70lbs respectively.   As this is relatively early, I leave a full super on each hive in case forage dries up during July/August.


Forage

The Lime and blackberries are almost over, although some lime is of a different type and flowers later.   There are some reasonable patches of Rosebay Willow Herb on the Heath and bees certainly will make good use there.   I wonder if you have found any new source of forage for July. Let me know if you have.

Pollinated blackberries
Rosebay Willow Herb
Pollinated blackberries
Rosebay Willow Herb

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