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John the BeeMan's Blog - March 2015 - Inspections & colony records

BBKA News – March

This mag gets better all the time with its regular Monthly notes ‘in the Apiary’ and its up-to-date information on everything BEEs.   If you take your beekeeping seriously, you must read it and file useful articles for future reference.

Forage is there to help you with gardening and Ruth & Ian Homer’s articles on varroa are excellent, explaining comb change, how to do it and why.

“The Value of Nuclei” and “Queen Cells” are compulsory reading.

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Apiary Up-Date

I have now cleaned all my 20 supers, 2 crown boards and 8 queen excluders ready for the coming season.   This allowed me to repair any broken woodwork and take out poor frames.

Scraping wax and propolis during cold weather is much easier as it is hard and brittle, being easier to remove.   All the debris should be carefully disposed of, either bagged up with general rubbish or burnt.

Cemetery hives
Murphy hives
Cemetery hives
Murphy hives

I needed to get these jobs done early, as I have just had a knee replacement which will handicap me for the next few weeks.

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The Colonies:

My Murphy bees are still alive, although they may be in smaller clusters than I would prefer, time will tell.

The cemetery bees are doing well with several gradually eating their way through the candy.   I noticed that there are plenty of bee dropping on the roofs and the pallets, they are all just round spots which is perfectly normal.   If they had been due to Nosema the splodges would have been darker, larger and irregular in shape.

Bee poo on hive roof
Bee poo on pallet
Bee poo on hive roof
Bee poo on pallet

I needed to get these jobs done early, as I have just had a knee replacement which will handicap me for the next few weeks.

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March jobs

Continue Preparing 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.


On Warm days, above 15 degrees C +, have a quick internal inspection:

  • There is usually a warm sunny day in March when you can check out your bees
  • Decide exactly what you need to look for:
      a. Stores – honey and pollen (pollen is required in large quantities to feed larva)
      b. Brood generally - note the number of sides with eggs, larva and sealed brood
      c. Generally health – including overall strength of the colony.
          Should be at least 3 frames covered with bees on both sides, preferably more.
  • If there is a super under the brood box, this is an opportunity to place it above the brood over a queen excluder.
  • Spend about 5 minutes (no more than 10) on this inspection.

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Think about changing brood frames

Shook swarm or Bailey method (see Knowledge - How to ..).   The March BBKA News article explains this in understandable terms.


Start colony records

Especially needed if you have more than 3 hives. Your recording will help remind you of your previous inspections, tracking the progress of:-

  • The queen, queen cells and swarming
  • Brood, from eggs to larva and sealed brood, is it looking healthy etc
  • Stores, honey and pollen, is there enough for the time being
  • Varroa checks
  • Temperament of the colony
  • And anything else that interests you.

No colony likes being open for too long, so check your notes from the last inspection and decide what’s needed.   This will help you shorten your inspections.

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March forage 2015

Forage There will be an abundance of pollen laden flowers and catkins throughout this month and, as a beekeeper, it is good to keep an eye open when walking on the Hampstead Heath, allotments, gardens and other open areas for these plants and trees.   Front gardens are great for many different varieties.

Hazel catkins
Hellebore
Pussy Willow, a major pollen provider
Hazel catkins
Hellebore
Pussy Willow, a major pollen provider
Mimosa
Clematis Armandii
Mahonia
Mimosa
Clematis Armandii
Mahonia

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