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John the BeeMan's Blog - Mar 2014 - Roof insulation, candle dipping, hive moving, maintenance & March jobs

Roof Insulation

My February Blog mentioned the use of hay in an empty super for winter warmth.   It has been pointed out that some hay is treated with an insecticide for use with pets (rabbits and guinea-pigs).   Untreated hay must be used.

Candle Dipping

As advertised, I demonstrated my method for dipping beeswax candles and 6 members came.   Just right for the job in hand, plus coffee, when we discussed how I clean the cappings to produce lovely deep yellow wax with virtually no dross.   Everyone dipped the 1” wicks, weighted with lead to keep them straight for the first few dips, right through to a full 3/4“ candles.   This whole process took place in my kitchen with the hob covered in aluminium foil and the worktops with newspaper.   Wax is a bugger to remove, so protection is essential.

Wicks after 2 dippings
Set-up on the hob
Wicks after 2 dippings
Set-up on the hob

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Moving my hives

I have been waiting for a cold spell to move both lots of my bees and because of the mild weather, I gave up the wait!   My hives on the cemetery apiary were too shaded by the adjacent woodland, and I put the low yields down to this.   I chose the opposite sunny side, although it is much wetter.   12 Pallets later and with grass stuffed into their entrances, Johan and I moved them.

My other hives were in the way of building works and I moved them across the car park to a temporary position.   Here I tied a bunch of twigs in front of the entrance which, hopefully, confused the bees.   In all cases, the colonies appear to have settled into their new positions.

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Check, repair and clean equipment

I spent a day in the cemetery, checking all the spare equipment.   I cleaned 10 supers & their frames.   Also 4 empty supers, 2 that will need frames, leaving 2 for allowing rapid feeders to be used. I then checked and cleaned 4 Nuc boxes and 3 spare 14” x 12” brood chambers. Spiders were in most of these, probably doing a good job keeping the wax moths at bay.   I then attended to the miscellaneous items such as queen excluders and crown boards.   A few old, misshapen frames were discarded.

Supers being cleaned mainly of brace comb
queen excluders clogged up with brace comb and propolis
Supers being cleaned mainly of brace comb
Queen excluders clogged up with brace comb and propolis

Jobs for March

  • Check the winter feed and replenish if necessary.   As the queen is laying now, pollen is very important and a substitute such as ‘Netkapol’ can be used as a safeguard.
  • Keep an eye on the colonies and, if the temperature reaches 16+ degrees C, they can be briefly inspected.
  • Be ready to replace old, black brood frames with new foundation.   This can be done by:
    • Replacing 3 or 4 frames each year.
    • The bailey method using an extra brood box with foundation on top of the existing one - see Bailey Comb Renewal.
    • The shook swarm method – see Shook Swarm Technique.

I will report on these at the beginning of April.

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