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John the BeeMan's Blog - October 2015 - Winter preparations & candle making

BBKA News – September

Icing Sugar Dusting – This confirms my view that it is an awful waste of time?

Uniting Colonies – is very easy, especially with newspaper.   I remember being asked a question about the uses of the queen excluder; the one I missed out was putting it over the newspaper to hold it down!   The most useful alternative to the horizontal method, is the vertical way when introducing queens without ending up with 2 brood boxes.

Apiary Up-date

This month was in three parts:

1.       Varroa Treatment: I applied MAQS formic acid strips to all colonies on 10th September, which I placed on the brood chamber top bars under the queen excluders and any supers went on top of that.   I followed the instructions and took out the entrance blocks to allow plenty of ventilation.   The treatment is for 7 days, so I removed them on the 17th.   The mite drop was significant on most of the colonies, too many to count!   One of the Murphy colonies showed it’s dislike of the acid, see the picture of the floor insert.   I just hope that the queen is still there!

Dead bees after the formic acid treatment!!
Mites and other debris after treatment
Dead bees after the formic acid treatment!!
Mites and other debris after treatment

2.       Feeding for the winter: I went through each colony checking the stores in both the brood box and any super that will be left on.   The result was an average of 10kg of sugar for each colony.   I therefore had to buy from a ‘cash-and-carry’ 100kg of white granulated sugar, total cost of £70.    (I checked out the local supermarket and found that it was cheaper there, although they might not have had the amount I needed).   The making it into syrup took about 3 hours of heating and stirring.   All much cheaper than the ready-made ‘Ambrosia’

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I fed them just before darkness in the evening, having first put the ‘ashford’ feeders on in the morning.   Feeding will get the bees very excited and less disturbance is caused during darkness.

3.       Moving the Murphy Bees: Building works are to be carried out close to the hives, so I was asked to move them.   With help from a friend, we transported them to the cemetery, having prepared the hives the night before.   Being WBCs, the lifts had to be removed and carried separately, the entrance sealed with foam rubber and a pair of straps around the whole hive and any other likely escape covered up.   The move went without a hitch.

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In their temporary home for the winter
In their temporary home for the winter
In their temporary home for the winter

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Candle Making

My beeswax supply had built up, so candle making came to mind.   I filtered most of the wax blocks from the solar wax extractor, resulting in 2½ pounds of good clear wax.   My usual way is to dip candles until the bottom is about 3/4” thick.   The leftover wax is used to make ‘skep’ tea lights which are made in a latex mould, perfect for grandchildren’s birthdays and Christmas teas.

Wicks being weighted and tied to battens
Hob protected with foil and wax being melted
Wicks being weighted and tied to battens
Hob protected with foil and wax being melted
Finished candles ready to cool
Spare clean wax, in blocks, for future use
Finished candles ready to cool
Spare clean wax, in blocks, for future use

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NLB Honey Show

As always, I entered my products at the show.   I have always been competitive, so take the preparation seriously.   My honey is thought about when I’m extracting it.   I try to avoid surface scum/bubbles and use the cling film method to remove them if necessary.   Both my runny and set honey is darker than usual.   My beeswax is my speciality and I choose the best pair of candles from the 28 I made and got 2nd prize.   The block of wax is more a question of honour in my case as I have been making these for many years.   Tessa, my wife, considers this a complete waste of time.   I have plenty of time available!!   However, this year the blocks did not work out well after two attempts, so I abandoned it for this year.   Cut comb depends on how well the bees have made it.   This year was good and I had plenty to choose from, but only got 3rd prize.   Photographs are a lottery, as it so much depends on the judge’s tastes.

This year’s show was well supported and there were plenty of entries.   The Judge, as always, gave his comments which are aimed to help all entrants produce show winning products for the future.   I feel that his standards are very high and he applies these to us.   As a result, awards were few and far between with many disappointed members probably being disheartened by their performance.


October Forage

Ivy and Michaelmas Daisy are still out, but not much else.



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