by John Mumford (Hon Sec)
The April Meeting at the Association Apiary was well attended despite the cold and rain. The bees were in fine fettle with no signs of any disease and plenty of stores. We checked for sealed brood, (ie. a Fertile Queen present), and put a strip of Apistan into each colony just to see what mite drops we would get, (I have had reports that very high Varroa Populations and a lot of Virus damage has been found in some colonies). A few days later I checked for mite drops and found nothing. I put a super of foundation on each of the colonies, the fields of 'Rape' over the hedge looked very promising. The Apistan will of course have to come out before they start storing nectar. I found quite a few crawling bees climbing up blades of grass in front of the dark mob which made me suspect they may have a Nosema problem, but the sample I took was clear. I think foragers from this lot, (who fly even in the cold), had returned, dropped down to catch their breath, got chilled, and a number died. This is quite normal at this time of year and nothing to worry about.
We will all be making up frames in a hurry shortly - and the Gimp Pin packet often gets knocked over. I have found the neatest way to pick them up off the floor is with a Fridge Magnet, you get them all up without picking up a load of other rubbish.
We got the rain in April that was so badly needed, but my bees have taken quite a bit of punishment in the process. Foraging for nectar and pollen has been almost impossible, and without pollen the bees can't produce brood, some of my colonies are smaller now than they were at the end of March. I have been gently feeding those that needed it (a honey jar of 50% sugar syrup every 3 or 4 days), I didn't want to feed so much that the bees filled up their brood combs and then the Queens have nowhere to lay when the weather does change for the better.
Some colonies, very short of pollen have actually been throwing out their drones and drone brood!
The next Apiary Meeting will be at my Cock Lane Apiary on Sunday 20th. May. I would normally start Queen rearing in early May but this year the bees won't be ready. Every year the weather is different which makes beekeeping so challenging. I just hope I will have something interesting to show off on the day.
The next Committee Meeting is at 8.00pm. on Thursday 17th. May at 13, Heaton Court.