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Whats the weather been like in your neck of the woods?The first week of spring is nearing to a close, last weekend was a great weather weekend and we got a lot done. A few DECA checks, planning our hive inspection and split schedules…buzy buzy buzy…. Last weeks BLOG talked about some activities recommended to get a good start to the new Bee Season…. …activities such as planning and starting your inspections, monitoring mite levels and a hive inspection sheet to help you with record-keeping and of course, preparing for varroa treatments.
- did you get around to inspecting your hive?
- what did you find?
- what were your mite levels?
- did you record your findings?
Inspections– You must inspect your hive/s regularly over the Bee Season which means every 2 weeks. – generally ‘Bee Season’ runs from Spring to Autumn Keeping records – did you down-load the free inspection sheet? – its really helpful because you can plan each inspection and learn what trends are happening in your hive, it will add to your confidence in what you need to do next – always a bonus Handy hint…if you’ve got more than 1 hive then it will help avoid confusion
MonitoringDid you get a good handle on mite levels in your hive? …anything over 20 and you need to treat
TreatingI have heard that ‘older’ beekeepers, with respect, say ‘...you only need to treat once a year...’ but unfortunately hives are not surviving, add to that the fact that current research shows that the varroa have now built up resistance to synthetic treatments! ( effectively they are becoming SUPER VARROA DESTRUCTOR, sounds like a horror movie ) Check out this video clip by Dr Mark Goodwin who talks about varroa resistance, pollination and makes some other interesting points about Bumble Bees:-
Should I treat?Really, the question is ‘ what will happen if you don’t? ‘ – I suggest that if your hive is new, then YES WHY? Well In my view unless you know the exact history of your hive, not treating will be highly risky and potentially cost you the loss of your hive. Handy Hint, Our view is choose organic treatments because of that very reason – alternate a couple of different ones. Alternatively If your hive has survived a few seasons you should be confident in what it needs, but always monitor and keep records because you don’t really know what effects other hives in your local area may have on your hive!
Did you get the answer to my “hint = integrated”?Its all about using different methods to manage your hive. The term being used is “Integrated Pest Management Program” (IPM). Such a program involves not only treatments but also the right hardware which helps the Bees manage their health within the hive, best practices recommended for the 21st century ‘modern’ Beekeeper.
VentilationA kiwimana meshboard – use all-year round – this will keep the hive free of mould and enable the Bees to moderate temperature within the hive. Did you know that a solid-bottom board can cause the Beehive to over-heat in summer causing the death of Bees in the hive? Good air circulation and fresh air in the hive is essential.
- manage drone cells – use a drone management frame so the workers will make drone comb, the queen will lay drone which you then can use to open cells and check for presence of mites – they love drones because they are a bigger feed and the mites breed in the cells – the male mite is clear and you will need a microscope to see it Handy Hint, if the queen is laying worker eggs in these, it means you need to give her more space to lay.
- manage worker comb – as the new Bees emerge they leave behind a ‘casting’ and within that casting there can be viruses left by mites, the viruses can spread quickly to new eggs and this will lead to Bees dying in their cells – the castings make the comb become dark and if left too long dark brown – standard recommendation is to remove darker comb and clean frames every three years at most. Did you know that older comb does not melt well in your Solar Wax Extractor because of the old castings?
- mould – this is a result of condensation in the hive and the fact that the Bees are not able to moderate the air, it could also be that the population is so dense that heat is causing the condensation to increase. I was told by an older Beekeeper not to worry about mould on the frames and was told that “…the Bees will clean that up…” unfortunately that may well have been the case in the past but mould = disease and an unhealthy home Did you know that mould is similar to condensation build-up in a bathroom caused by a hot-shower and leaving the windows shut, the mould causes black fungus to form on the ceilings and walls – is that what you want for your Bees?
- hive position – would you build your house in a puddle? Our advice is to keep your hives 20 to 30cm up off the ground – constant splash-up from rain is not helpful – not only do Bees get soaked and die, the hive entrance will constantly be wet making it difficult for the Bees to dry out the hive.
- Disease – prepare for a disease inspection AFB and complete before November