25 September 2015

Queen cells, swarming, and beginner beekeeper training

It's late September, which is a strange time of year to think about queen cells and swarming, but, having recently helped a new-to-the-BKA-this-year beekeeper deal with the repercussions of bad poor misunderstood advice, now seems as good a time as any.

It's important for all beekeepers to know, and to fully understand, why it is not a good idea to remove queen cells as the sole method of swarm control, no matter how experienced the beekeeper who says it is! The end result is likely to be a colony with no queen and no means of making one. The colony will be doomed to a slow decline - which a newish beekeeper, struggling alone, may not notice until it's too late and they 'suddenly' see their hives contain frames empty of both brood and stores, with the few remaining bees on the point of starving to death.

How can this arise, especially when this particular beekeeper has done all the training, attended all the apiary sessions, and been to all available BKA events since they joined?

22 June 2015

Marcus Terentius Varro - De re rustica.

According to CMC Green, Varro "began the project, he says, at the request of his young wife who wanted to know how to manage her new estate". The 'treatise' isn't written as a text book, it's written as a series of stories and conversations.

When I first read this translation I was quite surprised to see how little beekeeping has changed in over 2,000 years (since about 30 B.C.), and how much of the advice is still relevant to 21st century beekeeping. Okay, so we now know that colonies are not led, or ruled, by a 'King' and we know that bees don't spontaneously appear within corpses of bullocks, but the antibiotic properties of honey have only been rediscovered, and used in medicine, in the last few years and the properties of thyme have been invaluable in dealing with varroa. Maybe there's something else that we 21st century beekeepers can use, if we look hard enough.

If nothing else, I think it's interesting.

This translation is taken directly from this site. The site owner William P Thayer states that this translation is "in the public domain", and may therefore be copied. Published in the Loeb Classical Library, 1934.

All the numbering and links have been removed because blogspot doesn't do sub and superscripts, and leaving them in made the text more than awkward to read. The number of paragraphs have also been increased, to try to improve readability.


21 June 2015

shb update

Good news, I hope.

Dated 15 June 2015 and via Gavin Ramsay  on sbai
I have to say that the apparent success of the eradication attempt in southern Italy is surprising ... and good. It might still be lurking somewhere there - or elsewhere in Europe - but this sea of green dots for 2015 is very promising.
From Italian health authority and research organization for animal health and food safety
Current epidemiological situation

Figure 1: Calabria protection area (20 km radius)
Figure 2: Sicily protection area (20 km radius)
Figure 3: Calabria and Sicily monitoring area (100 km radius)

20 April 2015

Blackthorn Winter

The Blackthorn is flowering and with it has come the fairly typical-for-this-time-of-year icy cold east wind.
After an auspicious beginning - well, it didn't rain as much as last year or the year before - 2015 has turned out to be starting with a long, cold, spring, and it's caught a number of beekeepers out.

It's worth remembering that beekeepers in rural areas don't get the advantage of the urban heat effect, and nor do their bees. Last week there was snow in parts of Scotland, Yorkshire and Cumbria and, despite media pictures of folks sunning themselves on beaches (albeit wearing thick coats and scarves) it's been so cold in the balmy south that the central heating has turned itself on. There was another frost warning last night.

27 March 2015

NBU & APHA Youtube channel

This could be a useful youtube channel, let's hope they find time to update it regularly.

From Beebase:-
March 2015 - Asian Hornet Videos on YouTube
The Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) has a YouTube channel which the National Bee Unit will use to share videos on in the future. Recently, we uploaded our experiences of the Asian Hornet in Andernos-les-Bains, South West France.

The YouTube channel can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCz2mmKhYUpQJEviiAzOEqA

13 March 2015

Dead colony and a WBC

A little while ago I was asked to help a local beekeeper look through a dead colony. They wanted to try to work out two things. First was reassurance that the colony hadn't died of foulbrood, secondly to, if possible, find out what had caused the colony to die - something that isn't always easy.

The colony was in a beautifully appointed cedar WBC - that's the double skinned hive designed by William Broughton Carr way back in the late 1800s. It is a design has stood the test of time, and is used by many British beekeepers.

Colony history, and weather
The queen was in her second year. The colony had been large and thriving going into autumn.

19 February 2015

Diagnosing the Foulbroods

Both European Foulbrood and American Foulbrood are notifiable diseases here in UK. This means that cases MUST be reported to the Beekeeping Inspectorate, who will then inspect your bees and, if there is a positive diagnosis, will tell you what you should do next.

The Inspectors will then inspect all known colonies within the nearby area, and support those other beekeepers whose colonies are also infected. The aim is to restrict the spread of the disease.

There is no shame in admitting that your bees are infected, the greater shame would be trying to hide or ignore either of these diseases and hope they will go away on their own. They won't! All you would achieve is to let foulbrood spread throughout the local honey bee population, with potentially catastrophic results for both other beekeepers's bees and feral colonies.

Please, learn how to recognise these diseases, and ask for help if you think you spot either in any of your colonies.

17 February 2015

The Beekeepers' Library

I'm adding this partly as a placemarker for personal use, but I can really recommend checking out the rather excellent resource at Strathcona Beekeepers. There's something there for every level of beekeeper.

Here's their own description:-
This library is a collection of articles, powerpoint presentations, webinars, software, videos and books on bee related subjects like bees, plants, farming, insecticides and beekeeping.  We are adding to the library regularly.

26 January 2015

Pears in a rich caramel-honey sauce

Fresh pears with a rich caramel-honey sauce - a lovely dessert recipe, very quick and easy to make at any time of the year.

You will need:-
One pear per person - use firm, ripe, pears. Comice are good.

For each pear:-
  • 1 oz butter
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • Sprinkle of ground cinnamon