Yesterday was probably my final hive inspection of this year and in this inspection I applied the main varroa treatment for the year, oxalic acid. This acid is found in honey but at really low levels and by introducing it into the hive it kills the varroa mite. The treatment only affects adult Bees so the best time of year to apply the treatment is around now when the level of brood is at a minimum. I know that I have mentioned in a previous post that I would ideally like to keep Bees naturally without the use of chemicals, however as I am still a novice I believe getting my Bees through their first winter and into spring healthy is my number 1 concern. Maybe later I will try the more natural way.
To start with I needed to get hold of oxalic acid crystals and was in luck when one of the people I did my training course with offered to give me enough for two treatments. The exact amount of crystal he gave me was 7.5g per treatment. The crystals where then mixed by myself with 100g of sugar and 100ml of water to give a solution that is 3.2% oxalic in a 1:1 sugar solution. This was harder than it sounds, it took a long time to dissolve the sugar into the water and even longer to dissolve the crystals but I got there in the end. The next step was to introduce the mix to the Bees.
Upon arrival at the hive there was a distinct lack of movement outside the hive, but to be honest it was rather windy and I'd rather have been tucked up in my house. When I removed the hive roof I could see what was left of the fondant I added previously; 1 empty box and 1 almost full. As I removed the crownboard the Bees started to show themselves but were not as lively as I have seen them in the past. I did a quick check of the weight of the remaining frames by gently lifting a couple with my new hive tool and was surprised at how much honey they actually had left; I can only think that with the mild end to autumn the Bees have been collecting later than I imagined they would do, clever Bees! The only thing left for me to do now was to apply the treatment.
The treatment of oxalic acid recommends using 5ml of solution per seam of Bees; a seam being the Bees between 2 frames. In my case there were 9 seams with Bees in so I used a total of 45ml of solution. To apply the solution I used a syringe supplied by the same guy who gave me the crystals (thanks again Steve) and using this I sucked 5ml at a time into the syringe and gently dribbled this onto each seam of Bees. I was surprised that they didn't get aggressive when applying this but obviously happy not to get attacked. After each 5ml was applied I refilled the syringe until all seams had taken 5ml. When I'd put the treatment down I decided to take a short video of the inside of the hive. Here it is
Apart from maybe popping up and clearing snow from the hive (if we get any this year) and maybe a check to see if they have enough food stored, I believe this could have been my last hive visit until spring. I certainly won't be opening up the hive fully until the temperature has risen. In the next few months I will be continuing to go to my Beekeeping meetings and reading my new books which I got for Christmas as well as carrying on with home brewing.