How to attend?
DUE TO COVID-19 THE APIARY IS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. WE LOOK FORWARD TO RE-OPENING AS SOON AS IT IS SAFE TO DO SO.
Members are welcome to attend the Association Apiary meetings as advertised. If you would like to go along, please check timings and remember to take clean gloves and boots. There are always plenty of suits available to borrow from the apiary.
Remember that the weather can lead to last minute changes … a quick phone call could save a wasted journey!
Latest reports from the Apiary Management Committee:
There was only one visit to the Apiary in January. It was so cold the pens were frozen so it was difficult to write any legible records.
We were relieved that the previously high varroa counts appear to have
settled down. Five of the colonies had very low mite drops — of between
none up to less than one mite a day. Colonies 5 and 8 have had
persistently high varroa counts but were below the treatment threshold for January of two mites a day. Depending on the state of the comb in these colonies in the spring we might consider a shook swarm if the counts go up.
We have fondant on most of the colonies but only one seemed to be taking it and required another block.
We will continue with checks approximately two-weekly during February .
The winter varroa treatments have been completed at the Apiary this month. Varroa has been more of a problem this year than in previous years and we have been unable to explain why.
In most of the colonies varroa counts moved back up fairly quickly towards the treatment thresholds after the autumn treatments which were with either Apiguard or total brood removal. The most likely explanation for this is either resistance to treatment (unlikely with a thymol based varroacide and not possible with brood removal) or re-infestation from collapsing nearby untreated colonies.
It was therefore essential that we made sure the winter treatments with Api-Bioxal were effective and we emailed members earlier in the month after the first treatment. We opened all the colonies and found significant amounts of sealed brood. We had to destroy the sealed brood to ensure that the oxalic acid which will not penetrate wax cappings was effective. We left the treatment of two colonies which had large amounts of sealed brood for a further week when we were relieved to find that most of the brood had emerged. It is important to get this treatment right as repeat administration of oxalic acid by dribbling is not recommended.
The post-treatment mite drops counted on the trays from the treated colonies ranged between 100 mites and 1,000 mites. The higher counts are very worrying as in the UK it is recommended that the Varroa population should be kept below 1,000 mites per colony to minimise the detrimental effects.
We did see evidence of deformed wing virus in one of the colonies so there is a risk that one will not survive the winter. We will be monitoring all the mite counts carefully over the spring.
Half of the hives now have fondant above the crown board and we will be checking this and the weight of the others between Christmas and New Year.
Kindly by Carole Astbury
There was only one planned visit to the Apiary in November. We did a routine winter check on the 7th. Another mild day so the bees were all very active for this time of year.
We have chosen to leave in the varroa trays all winter again, so the debris gave some indication of what was happening in the hives. Although mite drops counted over the month since the last visit would not be highly accurate we did calculate the average daily drop. Six of the colonies had dropped less than one to up to three mites a day. Colonies 5 and 8 had much higher drops with a huge amount of debris on the tray from colony 8. The average for these was over eight mites a day which is moving into the severe risk level. These queens are unrelated, Colony 5 is a 2018 Exmoor line queen and Colony 8 is a 2020 Beaminster line queen which has had persistently high varroa counts. All the colonies were treated in August.
Kindly by Carole Astbury
Becoming a member of West Dorset Beekeeping Association puts you in touch with a network of experienced Beekeepers. We enjoy our hobby and love to share our enthusiasm for our craft. See the list of benefits on the Membership page. A monthly newsletter keeps everyone involved and up to date with events and activities throughout the year.
Meeting other members and comparing colonies in the Association Apiary helps to develop practical experience and knowledge.
Yes! We would always encourage anyone who might be thinking about starting to keep bees to access some training. The WDBKA annual course for beginners is a good introduction and gives access to ongoing training with attendance at the Association Apiary throughout the season.
The time commitment varies through the year. During the active season each colony needs regular weekly inspections. Depending on the manipulations required this can take over an hour … or a matter of minutes! It is likely that your Beekeeping will absorb as much time as you are able to spend … once you catch the Beekeeping bug it seems to grow.
A good bee suit can cost up to £100. A hive and basic equipment will be around £300. A small nucleus colony will be about £200. Sometimes local swarms are offered to members for a donation to club funds.
The amount of surplus honey each colony produces will vary from one year to the next. A good beekeeper will always be sure to leave plenty of stores for their bees to use during the winter.
A strong, well established colony could give around 50lbs if the forage and weather are favourable … but there are always a lot of variables to consider.
The Association has close links to Kevin Pope, our local Seasonal Bee Inspector. He is always available to give advice and will visit your Apiary to check your bees.
Timely reminders are shared through the Association newsletter to guide members in good practice and to encourage close monitoring of Bee stocks.
All Beekeepers should register with the National Bee Unit. Their website contains a wealth of valuable information. They will also send direct email alerts to raise awareness of potential issues to Beekeepers e.g. reported sightings of Asian Hornets, how to identify diseases etc..