17th September 2019

Bee News

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Well the Honey harvest is in, totalling almost 30kg – around 70 jars worth. This is way down from last year when we had over 100 jars. I put this down to two

things; firstly, all but one colony was a swarm so they had to make wax comb for their home. To do this they consume a lot of honey so can’t store it. Secondly, the weather has been pretty poor apart from the record-breaking high temperature that was short lived.

All four colonies are now being treated against the Varroa mite. I use a Thymol based treatment which is a natural product of the herb thyme. This is poisonous to the mites but harmless to bees. I also regularly use a dusting of icing sugar which encourages the bees to groom. This leads to displacement of the mites which fall on to the bottom board under the hive where they stick on a thin coating oil and die.

Next year should be a much better year, if I can keep them all going through the winter. However, as three are swarms the age of the queen is unknown. This could present a problem in spring next year as a colony might try to supersede her with a new queen. The incumbent queen could actually resist this supersedure and kill the new queen before/soon after she emerges from the cell. If the colony is large they may also try to swarm, which I will have to try to discourage. A swarm is bad as you not only lose bees but they take a lot of honey with them, to help build their new home.

I hope you have had a chance to try some honey this year, despite it being a poor crop. Hopefully next year we will have better weather and all four colonies producing.

Tim Gordon-Jones

[Please note that this message is not posted on behalf of Bentworth Parish Council and does not necessarily reflect the Parish Council’s policy]

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