East Waterford Beekeepers Association

A Hive for All Bee Related News in Waterford

Notes from Bea Flavin’s Lecture on Swarming 14/03/18

We had an excellent talk from Bea and received very useful information on how to try and stop our bees from swarming and what to do if we get a swarm. It was a very interactive session with lots of questions.

I have tried to give as much information as I had made notes on and I have taken the liberty to add video links which I have found useful

Prevent Swarming

Why do bees swarm? Swarming is the bee’s natural method of reproduction so its always going to be difficult to control it. Imagine if we were to try controlling human reproduction?

When? Weather dependent. Early summer. Bees on Oil Seed Rape. Hive becomes congested. Lack of ventilation.

Signs: Strong Colony, Increase in drone brood, queen off lay, queen cells.

Prevention: Regular Inspections in April ..every 9 days if queen is marked and clipped, 7 day inspections if queen is not clipped. Look for queen cells and break them down.

Give bees plenty space. Add supers if necessary. Ensure plenty ventilation

Swap in 3-4 frames foundation yearly.

Recognise swarmy bees..they build up quickly.

Clip and mark the queen. Do this at first inspection if possible. Do around mid-day when foragers are out. Dont use smoke if possible as it will cause queen to run. Use crown of thorns…not the plastic variety. Dont press too hard. Yellow or white colours are easier to see. Keep Records

Do a Bailey Frame Exchange…see how in March Beachaire P141 and video link…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zm_UBm4HEn4

Do an Artificial swarm… video link.. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og00ZA_F6_Y and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lD4aEls8I4E

Replace the queen in the autumn. Young queens are less likely to swarm.

Unite weak colonies.

Taking a Swarm: need a box, sheet, water spray, frame of comb, protective clothing, secateurs, loppers. Get bees into box and cover. Isolate them from your Apiary until tested and disease free. Run them into a nuc box by placing the sheet on the ground, empty bees on to it. They will run into the nuc box. Observe if there is a queen. Dont clip the queen because if its a virgin queen she she cant then go out to be mated. Be careful…there could be more than one queen. Leave only 1 queen. Fill the box with 1 frame of drawn comb and 4 frames of foundation and feed 1:1. Take a sample of bees and send to Mary Coffey for testing. Treat for varroa.



Report from Bee Health Workshop with Eleanor Attridge10/03/18

A Bee Health Workshop  was held at Teagasc Thurles on 10/03/18. There were 11 participants which included four of us from East Waterford..Mary Madigan, Hanora and Caoimhin O’Leary and myself. The course was given by Eleanor Attridge Bee Health Committee FIBKA,

We were all asked to bring a sample of 30 bees. This was the first drama..how to collect same sample and then worse still to have to freeze the little creatures, But as Eleanor said..”Better to loose 30 bees than your full hive“.

We arrived in Thurles armed with the bees. The room was set up so that we all had a microscope to work with. The theme for the day was learning to identify Acarine and Nosema in our bees. Firstly we had to learn how to use the microscope and tweezers, then pin our bees through the thorax and remove the head with a scalpal. There was then a  collar to remove to expose the trachea which is where acarine mites reside. Eleanor did think that for all of us that used Apigard in the Autumn we were unlikely to find Acarine which indeed turned out to be correct. It was a fascinating piece of work as we saw the bee in great detail and appreciated the working parts of our bees much better. Visible signs of Acarine could include crawling bees or bees with deformed wings or lots of dead bees at the entrance in Spring.

The afternoon was given to looking for Nosema. Nosema is where there is a spore  in the bee gut and you may see yellow/brown streaking on the outside of the hive or on the frames inside. If not monitored and dealt with it could kill your colony. Testing involved mixing 1 ml of water per bee and squashing the mix. One drop of the liquid was placed on a glass slide and magnified x 400. Nosema spores look like little rice grains. We also were shown different pollen types in this mix. Some people did have Nosema and the recommendation was to perform a Shook Swarm or do a Bailey Frame Change ( both methods are in March Beachaire). One person on the course had brought samples from 4 of his bee hives and it turned out that he had Nosema in one hive but not in the other three even though the hives were side by side in his Apiary. Anyone with access to a microscope could easily do this at home.

The importance of having bees tested was stressed. Its a free service but still only 10% of beekeepers are doing it. It is easy…enough…to collect 30 bees(they must be older bees..not nurse bees) in a match box, freeze them and send samples to Dr Mary Coffey, Teagasc, Oak Park Carlow….the form necessary to send with the bees is on FIBKA website…. use the following link https://irishbeekeeping.ie/education/application-forms/. You will have to sign in. This is a totally confidential service.

Eleanor is a very interesting and entertaining lecturer and while we learned a lot we also had fun.

I will try to add some pictures to the gallery..I say try as using the website is very much an experiment also.


2018 Beginners Beekeeping Course

Our Beginners Beekeepers Course is now open for booking.

Date: Saturday 14th April.
Time: 10am-4pm.
Venue: Holy Cross Pub,
Butlerstown, Waterford.

Fee: €65.

Food for the day will be provided as part of the course.

Each participant will be supplied with the book ‘Bees at Bottom of the Garden’ which is recognised as a very good reference book for the beginner.

Contact Pat Crowley on 0868166653 or by email: waterfordbees@gmail.com to book your place.


As in April Irish bees become active again after the quiet winter months. Our Beginners’ Course facilitates a hands-on approach right from the start. The course comprises of a day’s workshop, covering the practical and theoretical aspects of the craft. Visits to working apiaries are organised during the beekeeping year.

The course will cover subjects like:

Beekeeping – What it entails

Workings of a bee colony

Bee equipment

Controlling bees and working towards honey

Keeping bees healthy and solving problems

Nectar and pollen sources

Harvesting the honey

Including a visit to an Apiary to get a feel for our new friends.

If you are interested in attending our Beginners’ Course please send your contact details to waterfordbees@gmail.com and we’ll forward you all the relevant information.