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.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Apiary inspection 22/09/11

This inspection was mainly to replace the varroa treatment with a fresh dose. Next week will be the last treatment and then I'll be able to do a count to see if the level of mites has dropped.

As my sister was available to babysit both me and Steph did this inspection. Our initial intention was to do so really quick inspection but it turned out slightly longer than originally planned, but not by too much.

Upon arrival at the apiary both myself and Steph were a little shocked to see that 2 of the trees in the allotment had been chopped down; they were the cherry tree and one of the plum trees. Although my dad had been saying for a while he was getting rid of them it still came as quite a shock. They weren't the most productive trees and the other plum tee although less than half the size does regularly produce hundreds of fruits.

When we got over the initial shock of the missing trees I went up to see the Bees while Steph got suited up. From about 10 foot away I could see plenty of traffic coming and going from the hive. I then returned to the car and got suited up myself  before both of us headed to the hive.

Again this week we went in without smoke. To begin with I lifted the hive roof and crownboard off exposing the super. We started removing frames and was happy to see plenty of honey in storage. It was at this point that the Bees started to get a little aggressive and before I knew it there were loads if Bees flying around buzzing angrily. Rather than risk a full scale attack we backed off, carefully replacing the crownboard, and regrouped at the car. We then got the smoker lit and returned to the hive.

After a few small puffs of smoke in the hive we removed to crownboard again and continued to inspect the hive. This time they were a lot calmer and we managed to finish checking the super without further issue. There were no eggs in the super, only honey! In fact there were about 5 frames of honey, nearly full.

When we moved onto the brood chamber the first frame we inspected was completely empty, but in previous weeks this was full of stores. I was slightly worried that they didn't have enough stored honey at this point but when the next frame was lifted my worries were over as it had quite a weight behind it and was full of honey. The next frame was the same but with a much darker honey, though unfortunately I won't get to taste the dark honey; this is due to the treatment in the hive possibly tainting the taste rather than any health risk.

When we got to the central frames the main thing we were looking for was either the Queen or eggs. In the first of the central frames there were no eggs but there was larva present and capped brood. The next frame had more capped brood, larva at a younger stage in development but most importantly there were eggs present. This was a relief as I haven't seen evidence of the Queen in a couple of weeks. The next frame was better still; plenty of eggs, larva present and Queen Beeatrix herself!

The final step was to add the varroa treatment and then quickly pack the hive back up. By this point they were getting a little frisky again and I could hear them banging off the veil of my suit. Luckily neither of us got stung but I believe that we could have if we had stayed much longer, though I still don't think they are aggressive. The Bees are generally more defensive when they have less stores and varroa treatment is in place. Next week will be the last stage of the treatment. I will have to keep an eye on their stores and if needed feed them with a sugar syrup.