As of April 2019 a lot of hives appear this year to be congested and adding frames of drawn brood comb or just of new foundation should be fitted on a mild day.
For those that don’t get the chance to attend their hives frequently a good idea is to put up a super on strong colonies with the middle frames of all new foundation so the bees will draw out these frames using up the ivy stores.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.