Bee Prepared

By Adrian Waring, NDB

All photos by Claire Waring.

This is an extract taken from an article in the November 2014 edition of Bee Craft. To read the full article see a copy of the November 2014 edition of Bee Craft. Back copies in electronic format can be purchased on line.

WINTER IS THE TIME TO GET READY FOR 2015

A beekeeper I used to know often said, ‘Beekeeping and fishing are the best hobbies in the world – they give you an endless opportunity to fiddle!’ And so they do. You can be led into hive making, honey showing, cooking, other hobbies, etc, etc.

What our hobby also has as a distinct asset is a close season when we can do very little to our bees. We are just approaching that close season – the winter. This is the time to take your annual break somewhere exotic and forget bees for a while. However, even sun, sea and sand can lost their appeal and you have ample time left to reflect on the season just gone and plan solutions to the problems you encountered. If you plan to repeat the same problems next year, then read no further!

‘Spare’ Equipment

The first thing to plan for is ‘spare’ equipment. When I stated with bees in 1961, I had none. Every hive was filled with bees. This meant that nothing was available to either deal with swarming colonies or to give a home to a free swarm.

Equipment

Make sure you have enough spare equipment for the season ahead

‘Spare’ equipment can be made or bought in the winter. If you can saw straight, you can make a beehive. You will never have a greater feeling of satisfaction than that of taking a crop of honey from a hive you have made yourself. Certainly supers can be produced in this way.

A decision that will affect what you make or buy is the system of swarm control you plan to use. If, for example, you want to make an artificial swarm, then you will be a ‘spare’ floor, brood chamber, inner cover, roof and full set of frames with foundation. If you decide to use the nucleus method, initially you will need a complete nucleus box and its frames. If your apiary space is limited, you can artificially swarm colonies over a suitable split board using the roof from the main colony but you will still need an extra brood box and frames together with the chosen type of board.

I mentioned supers earlier on. Putting a super on a hive increases its internal volume. Not giving a colony that is growing in size this extra room will almost certainly cause it to swarm.

You will find it easier to scrape wax and propolis off a queen excluder after it has been out in the open over winter

You will find it easier to scrape wax and propolis off a queen excluder after it has been out in the open over winter

Woodpecker damage, which needs mending, and protection against it

Woodpecker damage, which needs mending, and protection against it

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keeping Up To Date

  • It is important to keep up with the ‘cutting edge’ of beekeeping.
  • It is important to go to meetings and talk to other beekeepers.  I have picked up innumerable tips from such conversations which have saved me time and money.
  • It is important to read beekeeping magazines and books, if only to be aware of the proximity of pests like small hive beetle.

One thing I have learned since 1961 is this. The more attention you pay to your hobby, the more you will enjoy it.

Happy beekeeping in 2015!

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