Some basic articles to help if you are interested in getting started with beekeeping

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Managing More Bees

One of the local members of my association has asked me to look after his bees as he’s not able to. So I will be managing his 3 colonies for this coming season, which are based in an out apiary site about 3 miles away. Went to look at the bees tonight to check on their state as nobody has inspected them since they were treated for varroa with Oxalic Acid in early January.

They appear to be thriving and have enough stores until the Spring flow starts. All are on 14 x 12 boxes and one will certainly need a super before too long. I gave the strongest colony a pollen substitute patty to encourage it along.

Making Up and Feeding Pollen Substitute

Made up some pollen substitute and put on my colonies today, as I need very strong colonies for my plan to increase the number of colonies from 4 to 8. I gave each one a 1lb “patty”. Looking on various websites I decided that the simplest formula was:

  • 1.5Kg soya flour
  • 500g brewers yeast
  • 1Kg sugar
  • 4.5Kg sugar syrup – made up 2:1 (3Kg sugar to 1.5Kg water)

Mixed up in a food processor in 2 batches. Seemed to come out at the right consistency, like a sticky bread dough. In order to make it easy to handle I spooned 450g into freezer bags and laid these on top of the frames after cutting out a slot covering most of one side.

The soya flour wasn’t low fat and had a fat content of 20%. As the various information sources I read recommend a maximum fat content of around 7% I decided that 4Kg of sugar would result in an overall fat content of around 5% and as there is no pollen in the mix the sugar content needs to be high, in this case around 55%. It will be interesting to see how much of the patties the bees consume. Previously with commercial substitutes I’ve had very mixed success – some colonies like it and others barely touched it.

The Indigo colony in my out apiary is the one that I didn’t treat with Oxalic acid and looks to be quite strong but low on stores. So I will try and feed it later this week.

Update – 5th  March; fed Indigo with 8 litres of 2:1 syrup; which is probably a bit too much but decided to use a Miller feeder rather than a contact feeder as I’m not able to get to the out apiary site for a couple of weeks.

I think this year I will invest in a couple of pollen traps to build up a stock of pollen that I can use for next season’s spring feeding.

Bees Flying & Dying

First nice day we have had for some time and the temperature has got up to 9°C and the bees are flying.

However, the colony that I thought was weakest hasn’t survived. A quick look through indicates some dead bees on the frames but not enough for a viable colony. I don’t know whether it was just too weak to start with, but I’m sure the combination of  the Oxalic acid  treatment and recent very cold weather hasn’t helped.

I will check them for stores this week-end and then decide whether to feed them pollen substitute to try and kick start the season.

With the remaining colonies there is certainly quite a bit of activity and one or two bees have managed to collect some pollen, although not very heavy loads. With the crocuses in flower they can collect some pollen from them.

Collecting Pollen from Crocus

Sticky crocus pollen