NLB logo

NORTH LONDON BEEKEEPERS

BBKA logo

John the BeeMan's Blog - November 2015 - Candle making & winter treatment for Varroa

BBKA’s News (November 2015)

Plenty of good and interesting articles here, including “Defence of the Colony”, “Moving Hives” and “Top-bar Hives”.

‘November in the Apiary’ has run out of actual items, so suggests the use of ‘Manley’ frames for supers!   If you have tried them you will have found out that they all get stuck to their neighbours with propolis.   They may have other advantages, but I don't like them.   Candle making is also detailed, giving you some alternative methods to mine (see below).


Apiary report

My preparations for winter are now complete.   The MAQS varroa treatment seems to have worked well without causing too much damage to the bees.   I have fed them all, although some took time to take the syrup down.   I checked all 10 colonies 1½ weeks after starting to feed and all of them have laying queens with an average of 2 x 14”x12” frames of brood ready for the winter.

My Cemetery Apiary ready for winter
Late pollen coming in
My Cemetery Apiary ready for winter
Late pollen coming in

My entrance blocks are a permanent feature throughout the year (except when MAQS treating) and the floor inserts stay out.   This provides the necessary ventilation so, during November, I cover the crown board holes with thin pieces of wood (not with porter escapes as these get propolised) to stop through ventilation.

My entrance blocks allow only 5mm x 80mm entry which stops mice, so no mouse guards are needed.   The 5mm should also stop the Asian hornet from entering the hives, although that may not prevent it from causing havoc around the apiary.

Go to top sign Go to top.

Forage

There is still some bright yellow pollen coming into the hives, not sure where this is being collected.   According to my pollen chart, this colour could be either Michaelmas Daisy or Himalayan Balsam.   Ivy is shown as an olive green, but other charts on the web show yellow, very confusing.   I put my money on ivy.

During October I saw a fascinating sight: On a warm sunny day with the sun shining on ivy near to my cottage in Norfolk there were several hornets hovering around, trying to catch the pollinating insects.   The vibrant yellow of the bodies showed up wonderfully against the dark colour of the ivy.

Go to top sign Go to top.

BeesWax

Several of you have asked how I make my candles.   I have prepared 2 information sheets for our website:

  • The Preparation of Beeswax: Rendering down cappings and other bits of comb which can be traded in for foundation or further cleaned by filtering.
  • Candle making: I describe my methods for dipping candles and also the use of moulds.

There are plenty of other ways to do this, most beekeepers develop their own with practice/experience/ingenuity.   One’s kitchen is often used for this and mistakes can result in difficult and lengthy cleaning.   My advice is to cover all surfaces with foil (over the hob) and newspaper on worktops and the floor.   If you think how messy and sticky honey extracting can be, wax can be worse if you are not careful and methodical.

The 1st process, straight from the solar wax extractor
Finished dipped candles
The 1st process, straight from the solar wax extractor
Finished dipped candles

Go to top sign Go to top.

Forward Planning

Be ready to apply the winter treatment for Varroa.   For some years we have been using unofficial oxalic acid in sugar syrup solution trickled between the brood frames in the December/January period when there is likely to be very little or no brood.   A week after a cold snap is the best time./

“Api-Bioxal” has been approved by the VMD for use by beekeepers.   It is in powder form. A 35g sachet will treat up to 10 colonies.   It should be mixed in 500ml of prepared syrup (308.6g if sugar dissolved in 308.6g of water).   The dosage is 5ml onto each seam of bees between brood frames.   Trials show that this should be 92% – 99% effective.

This product can be applied using a commercial vaporizer.   In all cases please follow the manufacturer’s instruction and observe the safety requirements, especially a respirator when mixing into the syrup, or using a vaporizer.

Api-Bioxal can also be used on swarms and shook swarms during the active season, that have yet to produce any brood.

The National Bee Unit points out that the “use of any other oxalic treatments are illegal??”


Go to John's Blog main page

Go to top sign Go to top.