Wednesday, 26 September 2012

"Summer" 2012 - summer????!

A pretty grim year for the Brunny Bees all in all. It started off, er, wet, the summer was, er, wet, and the autumn is proving to be ... oh yes. Wet.

We went into last winter with 4 colonies, 2 vertical (a WBC and a National), plus the two top bar hives (one home-made, t'other bought), and unfortunately lost one of the TBH colonies during cold weather (they appeared to have starved just 2 frames away from plenty of food, and we have to ask ourselves if this would have happened in a vertical as moving sideways in a wider hive might well lead to trouble if the bees are caught in a cold snap too far from food).

So the year started bad, and got steadily worse: routine bee inspection showed 2 of the 3 remaining colonies were drone laying (becoming an issue in younger Queens, apparently - and rather worryingly), and we were advised to dismantle one of these colonies (the National), which we duly did - only to be advised by our Bee Buddy Steve that he would have tried to re-Queen. Cross about the initial advice? Yep.

So, down to 2. Slow re-queening of the other Drone-laying colony eventually worked - bad weather preventing new hatched Queen from mating for 2 weeks but eventually she was laying and our last TBH is ending the year strong, albeit not with strong stores as they are eating it as fast as they can gather it with having to spend so many days not flying.

And as for our WBC - our first colony: the bad weather late spring led to Nosema. FFS!!  We increased ventilation of hive and treated with Nozevit - VERY SUCCESSFULLY. No sign of diseased bees / dysentry since treatment early summer. We will, of course, re-treat winter food supplies.

The WBC colony is, however, despite the Nosema, exceedingly strong - but because of the Nosema, not splittable! And we have had a nice little surprise in a swarm taking up residence in the National. It is an exceedingly small swarm, however, so will need planty of TLC and feeding to get them through the winter ...

On another good note, we may be taking on a colony of Black Bees next year, so watch this space!
And check out this fab Beeswax Candles website which tells you how to make your own! Very useful indeed when left with lots of wax rather than honey at the end of the rainy season!

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