A blog originally for keeping track of my hobby of being a Beekeeper which has evolved to include Home Brewing and even more recently to follow me and my families approach to "The Good Life". Eventually I hope to include baking recipes and stories of our flock of chickens also reporting on the success and failure at the allotments.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Beekeeping Course: Week 7

This weeks course was a special one for me as it was the first I had attended as a genuine Beekeeper! Upon arrival we all got talking, mainly about how everyone's Bees were settling in. Mine seem to be doing fine but a couple who attend together who got their Bees the same day as me seem to be very lucky; their Bees have almost drawn out all the foundation into full comb. I imagine mine will catch up without too much problem.

As several people were picking up their Bees and there was a lot to cover we went straight up to the apiary. This weeks course was all about Bee diseases and being able to identify them. As a lot of Bee diseases are first noticeable in the brood as a Beekeeper you need to be able to remove Bees from a frame so you can see into the cells. We split into 3 groups and was shown how to shake the Bees off a comb. Once Ivor had done a frame the hive tool was passed round so everyone had a turn. When it came to my turn I gently removed a frame and had a quick look for the Queen. While I was looking for her I noticed a Queen cup with a white residue on it; I asked Ivor what it was and while he was looking at it a large caterpillar fell of onto the hive below, Ivor quickly caught it and disposed of it. It turned out to be a greater wax moth larva! It was now time to shake the Bees; to do this you hold the frame at either side and then shake with a couple of quick sharp thrusts downwards, which should dislodge enough Bees to be able to see the brood underneath. This should be done to all brood frames at least a couple of times a year if you want to catch diseases before they become a problem. After everybody had shaken a frame we moved straight onto putting the nucleus hives into everyone's hives and then left them to collect at the end.

After a quick break we went straight onto the classroom session which this week was about Bee disease and pests. We were shown several slides with various different problems present. Things we were told to look out for were:-

  • Uneven brood colour; a frame of capped brood should all have a very similar colour, newer comb will be lighter than old comb.
  • Smells; strong or sour odours can be signs of foulbrood
  • Uneven brood pattern; a failing Queen can cause cells to be regularly missed
  • Larva in cells looking different; they should be ivory white and curled in a "C" shape, if they are a different colour or seem twisted in the cell that could be foulbrood
  • Capped cells look sunken; capped brood should be lightly raised, again could be foulbrood
If any of the above are found in the hive then there could be a problem and if in doubt get someone else to look at it. If you suspect foulbrood, either American or European, then by law you need to notify DEFRA; we were all encouraged to register at Beebase and through there you can notify any problems you have. We also mentioned Varroa and Small Hive Beetle. I won't go into much detail on the diseases and pests as they will be eventually added to the separate page I've created .

I also bought a new suit for my better half so she can get a little more involved. She has decided that Bees aren't as bad as she thought but still prefers her chickens, which she blogs about here.
Steph in her Bee suit