9 Oct 2020

Bee Blog – As we go into October

Martin Davies

There are lots of Asters out in the main Garden and these appear to be being visited by solitary bees and Hoverflies while the honeybees are foraging on the Ivy and Himalayan Balsam and the familiar white stripes were very evident on the backs of the foragers.

The last of our “uniting of colonies” has now been completed and hopefully, we have given this colony the best chance of making it through to the spring, by boosting the number of bees to collect the late nectar and pollen stores.

When I first started Beekeeping, over 20 years ago, the end of the beekeeping season was in October and you didn’t tend to check the Bees very much until the first spring inspection the following March. These days with the milder winters and variable weather the bees can be much more active. They will be flying on warm days for cleansing flights and foraging on any late flowering plants. During milder winters the bees may not form a tight cluster and the queen may not have a break in her egg-laying. Brood rearing can go right through the year which uses up a lot of their resources.  This is why we now check the colonies regularly throughout the winter months to try to make sure the bees needs are met with plenty of food see them through the Winter. It will be especially important this year as the main foraging months were hit by bad weather and so of our colonies have been struggling to get out to collect enough stores.

We have checked our bees for varroa mites and have treated where necessary but the varrao will continue to breed so long as there are brood and larvae to feed on and this can be damaging to the health of the hive. This is why it is imperative that the mite count is reduced to minimise numbers as even if the queen does go off lay, any mites within the colony will feed on the fat bodies of the adult bees and weaken them and spread disease.

I will check the hives regularly for weight by “heaving” (lifting) the hives, which will give some idea if they have sufficient stores and if necessary give them a supplemental feed. In December each hive will be given a course of oxalic acid treatment to knock down any remaining pesky mites.

At one of our apiaries on the edge of the Garden, we are expanding and rearranging the site. The Bees have been moved away until the groundworks and clearing have been completed. We need to decide how to arrange the new site and get it ready for the return of the Bees in the next couple of weeks. So myself and my beekeepers are getting stuck in and working hard to make this happen. Hopefully, the Bees will appreciate our effort!

Lynda Christie

October 10, 2020