beekeeping courses, beekeeping equipment

Mantel Farm Beekeeping Newsletter - May 2017

May 2017 Beekeeping Notes from Amanda...

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Spring inspections and colony growth...

Although it has been often bright and sunny these last few weeks, it has not really been warm enough for full inspections. Sometimes I have had to restrict inspections to lifting the super (on the brood and a half colonies of which most of mine are) to check for visible queen cells underneath and lifting the lid to see if they need space, and crossing my fingers that they have not hidden cells anywhere else.

After the promising start to April when my colonies made great growth and were collecting nectar, I had to put on supers to all of them but now they seem to have stopped expanding and, from the water gathering going on, are eating their newly collected stores. So if this cold spell continues we will need to check they do not go hungry as they have a lot more mouths to feed now. In spite of the cold, one of mine has made queen cells with larvae and an artificial swarm was carried out this morning (22nd April), and two others have eggs in queen cells so will need regular monitoring.

What to do this month...

Prepare for artificial swarming:
Decide which method of artificial swarm you are going to use and have equipment ready in case you see swarm cells.

I have tried a variety of methods to stop them swarming, e.g. taking off a nuc, giving more space, etc but often this only delays them and increases the work, the only really certain way is a proper artificial swarm such as the modified Pagden. Once done, you should not need to worry about swarming for a month or so.

So a slow start to the swarming season, but May will see many more swarms. May is also a good month to do shook swarms as it should be warm enough for them to draw new wax, with some careful feeding. May used to be a promising month with hope of a spring crop but with climate change the 'June Gap' may be early again so watch their store levels. They will probably still need supers though to accommodate their increasing populations, and don’t forget to monitor the increasing varroa load.

Latest research...

Update on feral colony rescued in October of last year:

The mite count has stayed very low with this colony but it did suffer from paralysis virus over winter and quite a few dead piled up on the floor.  It reached a low point at the end of March of 3 seams and thankfully has now increased to 4. It will be a slow increase because of the low numbers. When I last looked there were not 

many eggs although the brood looked healthy and there was no sign of virus.  I saw the queen but they have decided to supersede her as there was a sealed queen cell too. So unless she continues to lay while her daughter is, mating progress will be slow.  I shall monitor their performance and do not expect to be rearing queens from them this year. They are clearly not the ‘survivor’ colony I had hoped for.

CCD has not been seen for 5 years in the US according to van Engelsdorp; the man who first named the problem.  A well known master beekeeper in the US believes the problem was caused by four factors, which came together in 2006, but are still around today so could cause a similar problem in the future.  These are:

Viral disease mediated by varroa, Poor honey bee nutrition, Big background levels of pesticide and a Shallow gene pool created by mass produced queens.

Some of these are American problems (mass produced queens and massive monoculture), but viruses and pesticides are a big problem everywhere.


Our Next Training Course: 

An advanced Beekeeping Day...

Book now to receive a 50% early booking discount;             quote BEEREF51

now just £49.00 per person!

Advanced Beekeeping Course June 3rd with Amanda Millar

A Saturday Course, for those more advanced beekeepers (with 2 or more years experience) wishing to keep their bees healthy and content by understanding their requirements and behaviour.

Including important manipulations such as finding the queen, requeening, shook swarms, basic queen rearing, collecting, preventing and control of swarms. Managing the honey crop and how to recognise, prevent and deal with diseases, pests and other problems which may arise.

Find out more...

Frames and Foundation:

frames and foundation

Don't forget to stock up on frames and foundation in readiness for the colony increasing:

Packs of 10:

Brood and Super Frames £16.00

14x12 Brood Frames: £20.00

Wired Super Foundation: £8.45

Wired Brood Foundation: £12.45

Wired 14x12 Brood Foundation: £19.95

Think black gimp pins: £3.95/100g

All suitable for both National and WBC Hives

Find out more...

Amanda holds regular Training Courses at Mantel Farm and contributes regularly to our newsletters.  Amanda is a professional ecologist who has been keeping up to 25 colonies of bees for about fifteen years. She has attained BBKA theory modules 1-7 with credits & distinctions and has also won prizes at the National Honey Show for honey & other products.

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