Sunday, 24 October 2010

Feed take-up sporadic

I went to the London site today with the aim of putting back on each of 2 hives the Apiguard tainted honey supers which I'd removed last week. The plan was to remove the contact feeders I'd installed last week and leave each hive with a crown board with a restricted feeder hole above which there were 2 empty, frameless supers with the super of honied frames above that. In theory the bees should take the honey down into the brood box from there. However, I was surprised that whilst this worked for one hive, on the other I found the contact feeder still mostly full. I checked it for function: it seemed fine, with syrup dripping out the bottom when I shook it. Weird - I guess these bees (Hive Amidala) were just preferring the ivy nectar flow instead. Good for them. I left the contact feeder in place and stored the honied super hidden from the bees above that, which I will give access for on my next inspection.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Apiguard and feeding

It's been way too long since the last post, so I'll quickly summarise . . .

I treated all my colonies with Apiguard in early August to coordinate with similar London-wide anti-varroa treatments: 1 sachet in early August and another a fortnight later. I found varroa drop low across all my colonies, so fingers crossed for the winter. I had intended to feed the bees in early September, but somehow other things in life got in the way and I only ended up feeding them yesterday.

Hive Cleopatra (the one on my mother-in-law's roof in Gerrards Cross) was so jammed with honey (and bees) in the brood box that I decided not to put on the gallon contact feeder I had prepared since the bees simply would have had nowhere to put it. All colonies had a limited amount of brood. The 2 proper-sized London colonies looked good, though I gave them each a gallon of feed and I feel confident that with that they should have sufficient stores, especially with the ivy still in bloom for a while yet. The nuc looked a little weaker, and of course it's harder to feed, so I again whacked on my improvised peanut-butter jar feeder and I'll look to do this again a few times before mid-November (a bit late, but there you go).

One problem I am battling with is what to do with supers which I did not extract the honey from since it was unripe or uncapped. Last year I had left these on the hives, though swapped them to be below the brood box. The bees then do the business of moving the honey up into the brood box, and then the super can be removed. I did this with Hive Cleopatra again this year and it worked well. However, I decided against it for the other hives, and in fact have decided against it in general for the future, since it's just too intrusive to move the boxes around: it's really quite cumbersome and disruptive for the bees. So I have 2 supers half-full of capped/semi-capped honey all of which is Thymol (Aipiguard) tainted so not fit for human consumption. I want to give it back to the bees after I get those contact feeders off. I read this week that one way to do it is to put these supers back on the hive at the top, but put 1 or 2 frameless supers in above the brood box first, and put a crown board with reduced hole below the lowest super. That way the bees take the honey down, seeing the honied super simply as a external source. I like this idea and will try it - I very much doubt the bees will try to fill the void with comb at this time of year.