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.
Starvation..Michael encouraged us to leave our bees some of the honey they worked so hard for and that, that is the best food for them. They need at least 20kgs of food. Feed 2:1 syrup = 4kg sugar to 2.5 ltrs water. Get familiar with hefting the hive.
Other things to help the bees survive is to ensure the hive is waterproof, put some insulation in the roof, keep earwigs and woodlice away by putting a powder around the hive, close down entrances, put inserts in OMF’s, secure Apiary, screw down hives if possible to prevent thefts, and put down treatment for pests. Consider your past year, what went well, plan for next year, do a list of equipment needed and jobs to be done.
Amost enjoyable night was had by all who attended and we are very greatful to Michael who travelled from Cork to be with us.