Michael gave us a very engaging and entertaining talk about preparing our bees for the winter. He used lots of analogies to illustrate his talk.
He said honey should be off by now, disease treatments administered and bees left with sufficient stores to take them through the winter and that by now bees should be settled down for the winter.
He recommends overwintering on a double box either a brood and a half or double brood box to ensure the bees have space to access food. He recommends overwintering a few nucs also.
The principal winter problems;
Queenlessness or problems with the queen..you can tell if you have a good queen by the brood pattern. There should be twice the number of grubs to eggs, Brood in all stages and good brood pattern. If queen is suspect requeen. Colonies overwinter better with a young queen
Disease..inspect for AFB, EFB, Chalkbrood, Nosema and Acarine. Testing is free. Send to Mary Coffey. Look for sealed cells out of sequence, larvae with C shape distortion and cell perforation. If colonies are small..why?
Varroa..dont treat automatically. Check how bad your varroa problem is. He recommends the sugar shaker method as being the easiest and is very reliable. See the following link for details http://nihbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Sugar-shaker-method.pdf. He talked us through the various treatment options and the use of Apibioxyl. He advised keeping a record of all medicines used. A link for a medicines card is in our Links page.
Dr.Kirsten Traynor of Flickerwood Apiary. Maryland, U.S.A. was invited by FIBKA to speak to beekeepers in Ireland. Dr. Traynor has a doctorate in Bee Biology and is the editor of the American Bee Journal. She has studied differences between European and American beekeeping and has published a number of books and has done many other studies. She was invited to speak in each of the provinces and had different lectures in each one. The Munster Lecture was held in The Horse and Jockey Hotel. Thurles on Saturday 24/03/18. This was a great venue, even though parking was at a premium. The lecture was held in a theatre hall which made it easy to see her and her presentation. There were approximately 80 people there, some of whom were travelling to hear all her lectures. The topics for the afternoon were ‘Halting the Unstoppable Swarm’ and ‘American Foul Brood’
Dr. Traynor was introduced by Gerry Ryan, President FIBKA. She told us she manages 40 hives organically and sells 150 Nucs and 200 Queens annually.
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.
Preliminary Beekeeping Examination.
This year huge interest has been shown towards completing the Preliminary Beekeeping Examination. It will be possible to have this done locally if we have ten or more members interested. From the feedback we are getting it looks as if this figure will be easily achieved. It will be a first for this Association that we know of and it shows the interest our members have in the many aspects of our wonderful craft.
The benefits of the exam:
We will qualify to buy bees from other associations.
We will be presented with a certificate with possibly a special event to mark the occasion.
It will enable us to go on to the next level of studies.
Our understanding of honeybees will have improved.
Exam will be held on 26th May at 9.30am
Written part: 20 easy questions in 30 minutes.
5 minute practical at hive opening.
Past papers may be viewed on the Federation of Irish Beekeepers Associations website under ‘Education – Syllabus’.
Nobody will fail provided a small bit of preparation is done.
Fortunately we have the expertise of one of our new members to guide us.
John Cunningham has kindly offered to prepare us. Just one session we’re told will suffice.
We have booked Wednesday 16th May at 7pm for this with the Roanmore Centre being the venue.
We will be signing up interested parties next Wednesday. Applications need to be submitted before the end of this month so we don’t have much time in this regard.
In all events below (bar the beginners course) the venue is the Roanmore GAA Centre, Cleaboy, Waterford and start time is 7pm.
As much as possible the lectures will be held on the 2nd Wednesday of the month.
January 10th. ‘Talking beekeeping’ with John Cunningham.
February 14th. ‘Spring Management’ with Jim Power.
March 14th. ‘Swarm control’ by Bea Flavin.
April 11th. ‘Native Irish black bee versus the rest’
by Dr. Tomas Murray of the National Biodiversity Data Centre.
We held our AGM on 15th November. It was felt that members should be given time to reflect on the subject of affiliation to FIBKA or IBA. The AGM was adjourned to Wednesday 29th when it is hoped business will be concluded. Again it’s a 7pm start at the Roanmore GAA Centre. There will be a cuppa there for those who arrive early for the chat.
Earlier this month we had our EWBKA Beginners’ Course. We held it in the GIY HQ in Ardkeen this year and it made an ideal venue on many levels. Heather and her team were perfect hostesses and hosts and put a lot of work into advertising the event and organising bookings, food etc. (the food was excellent, produced in the HQ’s own kitchen) Mike Hughes really appreciated this as it was Mik, himself, who would have done all this, singlehandedly, over the previous years. Míle buíochas do gach duine san ionad FTF (Fás Tú Féin!!) We had eleven on the course and, hopefully, we’ll have eleven new keepers of bees in the Waterford area.
One section of the course dealt with choosing a site for your apiary and as our Secretary, Pat Crowley, delivered this talk my mind wandered to the quality of the site for my own hives. For the last few years the Biodiversity Centre in Carriganore have bee-n kind enough to allow a few of us set up an apiary adjacent to their centre. Just like the good folk at GIY HQ, Thomas and his colleagues appreciate our buzzing friends and enjoy having them on site. It excels in one of the main criteria that defines the perfect site for an apiary – accessibility. You can drive right up to within a few metres of the hives. This is great, in April, when you’re bringing up the empty supers. But its brilliant, in August, if you need to carry full supers back to the car. Unfortunately, since we sited the hives there I’ve never had any great crop form any of my hives.
(At this stage Mike Hughes will break into song and dance about the “six super supers” that he got there a few years ago. But its a well known fact that Mike talks to his bees and I’m reliably informed by my spies in the Biodiversity Centre that phrases like “Now my darlings, its ok to rob from Kavanagh’s hives” and “God save our Queen!” were heard on many occasions during that year’s Honey Flow. Bitter? I’m not bitter! I’m way past bitter!!)
As I was saying, while the apiary had excellent accessibility there hasn’t bee-n any great crop of honey. So I thought about Pat’s number one criteria when choosing a site – the availability of nectar and pollen. Immediately adjacent to the site in Carriganore are the following
The River Suir
The Waterford By-Pass
Well Mown GAA Pitches (Thanks Eamonn!)
Equally well mown grass verges (Thanks again, Eamonn!!)
Lots of Car Parks
So, I had an idea to use Google Maps satellite view to look at my hives from on high and see what was available to my bees. As the bees will travel up to 1.5 miles when foraging I superimposed three circles marking 0.5 miles, 1 mile and 1.5 miles and here’s the result.
As you can clearly see the central circle is almost fully yellow so this isn’t a great site for foraging. However it is a brilliant site for access. So, as a result of the above I’m intending to move some of my hives to a different location. I’ll probably keep one there and also use the site to hold newly caught swarms.
Anyway, now with the recent burst of sun the dandelions are up and running and so is this year’s season. I’ll have my first examination of the hives within the next few days