5 Aug 2020

The sun is out but is there trouble in store?

Martin Davies

Summer has appeared again. The weather has cheered up for our apiary inspections this week. The bees are flying well and seem intent on gathering forage from all the flora available. As I walk through the walled garden, it is buzzing with bees.

On further inspection of the colonies in the main garden, I am surprised that they do not have an abundance of stores. There has been a bit of chalkbrood about and I am beginning to think that this may be having an effect on the number of available foragers.

After reading up on what we can do to help the bees – apart from re-queening, which we have mostly done by now – I am thinking of using a thymol-based treatment. This will knock down any varroa mites, even though numbers appeared to be low at our last disease inspection, and the thymol is reported to be effective against fungal spores, so it will be worth a try.

Also, we want our colonies in good condition with strong, healthy bees that will last throughout the long winter months.

Many of the colonies are getting on with the business of bringing stores, rearing brood and being busy bees. We have put on more supers where they are needed but mostly leaving the bees to get on with what they do best.

The brambles have gone over now but they were busy on the knapweed in the meadow and a plethora of plants in the Garden areas. Still, no sign that they are gathering in Himalayan balsam.

The colony that we united last week has done its job so we consolidated the brood boxes and supers and they seem to have successfully blended together.

The grafting activity that we undertook did not go as planned. The bees had other ideas and created emergency queen cells of their own. We have learned a valuable lesson. We should have left the queen-less colony for a week before inserting the grafted cells to ensure there were no eggs or larvae suitable for making emergency cells. Next time, we will be more careful with our timing.

The colony used has a nice temperament so I am going to let them raise their queen. Hopefully, the conditions will be right for her to get mated so that the colony can build up to get through the winter, or we may use it to boost another colony if necessary.

Let’s hope this lovely weather holds out!

Lynda Christie

July 30, 2020