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How have your Bees faired over the winter?

 
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Gareth



Joined: 07 Mar 2007
Posts: 6717


Location: Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 11:33 am    Post subject: How have your Bees faired over the winter?  Reply with quote

How have your Bees faired over the winter?

I think that I lost one of my back garden 1/2 Hive size Nucs last week to the frost. It was the one made up from a small swarm in late August, which seemed to take to its new home and surroundings well............... even putting down considerable stores before winter set in from late flowering Ivy, and Himalayan Balsam.

I seem to be the only local beekeeper who has not fed through the Autumn and early part of the Winter, because when hefted, all of my hives were heavy.

I have decided to open up and inspect all 4 of my hives in the garden this weekend, and regardless of the current stores in them I am going to feed each of them with a 1 litre inverted sugar and vinegar solution, and I may continue to feed them for the next 3 or 4 weeks. We will have the very beginning of the Dandelion flowering season in about 3 to 4 weeks, which will probably coincide with the local Daffs, Tulips and other bulb flowers in full bloom at the same time, and I want my bees in a strong and viable condition to take advantage.

My friend, mentor and fellow apiarist; Keith has lost one of his 4 colonies possibly due to the Macq varroa treatment making the hive Queen-less. Macq is an excellent varroa treatment, but about 1% of hives become Queen-less because of it. I have a theory about the Macq varroa treatment, but here in East Anglia I am very definitely in a minority of one over this.

Keith and I have acquired 4 more colonies in 3 new locations this winter, and we have made 4 more reclaimed pallet wood hives, so come late April that will hopefully bring us up from 28 (24 last year) to a count of 32 colonised hives that we share and manage between us, plus 4 each making for 40 hives in total.

After evaluating the condition of the colonies in the hives in our back garden this weekend, Keith and I will then make the decision on how to begin managing the rest of the hives dotted about the city, and whether or not we need to begin a pre-spring feeding campaign across them all so that we have extremely strong and healthy colonies ready for the beginning of the coming season.
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Last edited by Gareth on Sat Feb 21, 2015 8:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Lorrainelovesplants



Joined: 28 Mar 2008
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Location: North Cornwall

PostPosted: Fri Feb 20, 2015 5:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both colonies well.  Fed them today, although one had a super with some honey in it, and drowsy but live and happy bees.
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Gareth



Joined: 07 Mar 2007
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Location: Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Nuc that I was (and still am) concerned about took almost 700 ml of sugar water over the last couple of days, so this afternoon I opened it up to take a proper look.

The Nuc is Queen right as I found her very easily on the 3rd frame in, but the worker Bee numbers are way, way down and definitely no where near 3lbs of Bees, and probably not even 2lb of Bees. But during a sort of settled weather spell this afternoon (we've had a bit of everything today: flurries of snow & sleet, hail, rain, moderate to strong winds, and even some sunshine) some of the Bees were flying, and dragging out and dropping the deceased on the decking area.

The other Nuc, and the 4 Hives in our garden have all been fed with sugar water, but have not taken that much of the solution so I am assuming they all have adequate stores and are taking the sugar solution to top up only.

Keith has opened and checked his 4 hives this afternoon, so we will be able to compare notes. I am presenting the (last Wednesday of the month) Current Undercurrent music session at Jurnets bar tomorrow evening, so I think I'll take the time to sit and have a pint with Keith as we consider the next 4-6 weeks strategy regarding our shared hives.
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Lorrainelovesplants



Joined: 28 Mar 2008
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Location: North Cornwall

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Although I fed mine with fondant, I might also put on a liquid feed too!
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sod
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Joined: 18 Dec 2007
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Location: Masterton New Zealand

PostPosted: Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thought of you guys to-day as was out by a tree next to a gate and tree covered in bees working. We have ben planting a lot of a winter flowering daisy thing around here for the bees.
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Lorrainelovesplants



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Winter flowering daisy thing?   That'll be a technical term then Sod? .
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sod
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Location: Masterton New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lorrainelovesplants wrote:
Winter flowering daisy thing?   That'll be a technical term then Sod? .


Yep from the gardening by thingy book  
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Gareth



Joined: 07 Mar 2007
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Location: Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2015 12:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just  opened up and checked my 4 back garden bee hives, and all have faired well over the winter. I managed to find only the one queen, but the other hives have brood in all stages, which means they are all "Queen right". However, hive number 2 which currently has the lowest bee count and lightest amount of stored honey and ripe pollen has on frame number 3 a queen supersedure cell with a big fat queen grub inside.... so if by chance she is mated with an early emerging drone it will be just a matter of time until the workers reject and then either kill or eject the current queen. The queen in hive number 2 is the oldest queen I have, but even then she is still reasonably young, and is one of last year's being born and raised in our garden during late spring/early last summer.

Each of my 4 back garden beehives and 2 nucs have now been fed once (and one Nuc has been fed twice) with a 2:1 ratio of 1 litre of water to 500g of sugar with 2ml of malt vinegar added to it, and this weekend Keith and will visit all of the rest of the hives and put a feed of the same ratio on to each one of them. The checkout girl in our local Aldi looked at me rather strangely last night when I loaded 40 X 1kg bags of sugar on to the conveyor belt, but at 49p per 1 Kg bag it is the best price I have managed to find locally.

The Nuc that I was worried about last week has taken about 1100ml of feed over the last 7 days, and is looking the stronger for it, but the mortality rate still seems high although I think that is just the natural course of things brought about by the season and colder weather. However, the Bees are flying around, there is brood at all stages on the frames, and I have no-doubt that before the onset of summer that this Nuc will have become a strong, viable and self sustaining colony

Loads of Daisies are now flowering on the playing fields but I am unsure if Honey bees actually visit them, and there are plenty of Snowdrops and Bluebells already out in Lionwood, the Crocus, Tulips and Daffodils are about to show, and on the estate there is a magnificent amount of winter flowering Pansies and Violas along with some Primulas out in peoples gardens. Unless the temperature drops significantly for a sustained week or so with hard frosts, it is my intention to only feed all of our hives once more before the beginning of the Dandelion season, which is about 4 weeks away by my estimation. I want all of the Hives in a good, strong and viable position to take full advantage of the Dandelions, which will then be closely followed by Blackthorn, Hawthorn and Mayflower.
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Last edited by Gareth on Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:29 am; edited 1 time in total
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Gareth



Joined: 07 Mar 2007
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Location: Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Keith & I had a busy weekend travelling from one hive to another across the city. All have now been visited and all have been fed even though they were each heavy with stores. We stopped short by only lifting 3 frames from each hive for a visual inspection. Any more would have taken longer and would have exposed the bees for more than what we would have wanted. There are piles of dead bees in the bottom of each hive but what frames we did lift were very well populated. I think the dead bees are no more than a natural occurrence with winter hatched Bees reaching the end of their lives, and hopefully they will be replaced by natural succession in the next few days by the abundant sealed brood observed on the frames.

If we have a relatively mild week Keith and I will tour the hives again next weekend, and conduct some house keeping and cleaning, and we'll be better able to evaluate the strength of the individual colonies before relocating a few of them. Keith will be making some varroa inspection floors this week from reclaimed pallet timbers and a 1250mm X 2400mm sheet of 316 food quality stainless 3mm mesh I bought (for a ridiculously low price) at an engineering disposal auction just before Christmas. I would also like use this mesh to make some false floor Hornet cage traps for a few of the hives this spring and then have them in place during the summer.

I was stung by a Hornet last year which very nearly killed me.......... I managed to get to the Yare valley doctors surgery 1/2 mile down the road from here, before collapsing in the reception area, and I can personally confirm that an adrenalin shot directly into the heart whilst still sort of semi conscious is the most painful thing I have ever experienced. I still have the 1/2" long groove in the cartilage of my right ear where the Hornets venom destroyed the tissue, but at least the skin has grown back over the damaged area and has more or less hidden it.

I am really excited about the prospects of all our hives this year, and with Keith celebrating his 69th birthday next month, I will be taking on a lot more responsibility within our little enterprise. I am also hoping to get onto the locally run BBKA Bee husbandry course at Easton College...... I need this qualification if I am to place some hives in certain locations, plus another formal qualification certificate to add to the rest I have will be welcomed.
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hughesy



Joined: 22 Jan 2013
Posts: 1071


Location: Anglesey

PostPosted: Mon Mar 09, 2015 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We went into the winter with five colonies, one of which was no more than a nuc and quite weak so we didn't expect that one to do very well. We lost that one plus another but have three strong ones left going into spring. Gave them a feed yesterday and they're looking good.
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Gareth



Joined: 07 Mar 2007
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Location: Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I fed the 4 Hives in our garden again yesterday. I'll feed these hives once more, and then only if they really do need it.

Keith has been out and about today and has checked over at least 8 hives during the last 2 days. It is the Norwich Music House Friday Night Acoustic session in Jurnets Bar in a few minutes, so I'll meet Keith down there this evening and over a pint or two we will discuss our next move and the next part of our strategy to implement regarding the rest of the hives dotted across the city.
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Gareth



Joined: 07 Mar 2007
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Location: Norwich, Norfolk, UK.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have just finished feeding an inverted sugar solution with a 1% addition of Lemon juice to my 4 back garden Hives and 2 Nucs. Keith has just phoned and has informed me his 4 hives have also just been fed with the same, and can I pick him up so we can go and feed the other 28 hives.

I've now got 15 kgs of sugar topped off with water and 250ml of Lemon juice in a 25 litre drum with a tap on it which I've just mixed with a paint strirrer in the cordless drill. Hopefully it'll also be shaken up enough while I drive around the city to keep all the sugar in solution as we visit each of the other hives and feed them, but I'll give the drum a darn good stir with the drill at each stop anyway.

Unless the temperature plummets and weather turns dire and dismal and holds for the rest of April, this will be the last time we feed Bees until next winter.  


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