Harold and Barbara Williams are members of the Cardiff, Vale and Valleys Beekeepers. They have 5 hives here at Dyffryn. The relationship is a mutually beneficial one, they are given an area of the gardens to keep their hives and we get lots of lovely bees close by to pollinate our gardens. Each season Harold and Barbara give us the latest news from the hives.
The apiary in autumn
Autumn leaves are starting to fall and the bees are well aware of the shortening days. An inspection of the colonies has revealed a distinct fall off in egg laying, not many larvae or sealed brood observed and the drone population has been reduced dramatically. This to me is the bees preparing for the winter to come. Do the bees know something we don’t?
Harvesting the honey
The time has come for Barbara and I to look to reducing the supers on the hives, these are the boxes used to collect the honey. The bees are working a couple of supers but not really finishing either of them off, so our approach will be to remove one super. To do this the unused frames in both boxes will be removed and those that are being worked will be retained in one super and this one will go back onto the hive. At present the weather is very favourable and the bees are both numerous and active, so they do require the additional room.
Feeding or fasting?
The weather is a very dominant factor with regard to beekeeping and the beekeeper has to make a management decision, will the fair weather continue? Should I start feeding those of the colonies that feel light when hefted (lifted) and the control of the Varroa Mite must be addressed. Which one of these two management decisions must come first? It is not considered good practice to try to do both in one go. For myself I will take notice of the bees, the reduction in egg laying will mean a reduction in hive numbers, this will lead to less foragers being available and should bad weather be on the way there has to be sufficient in house stores to ensure survival of the colony. Feeding will take priority! A bee well provided has a much better ability to withstand the ravages of the Varroa Mite than an underfed one.
Medicines and mites
Monitoring of the Varroa has been carried out by Barbara and me throughout the year. When and how to treat for Varroa does not come down to a pre-determined schedule, the weather, the population of the hive and the number of Varroa that you think you have will be your guide. As beekeepers we do come under the Veterinary Medicines Act. Applications of approved mendicants only is permissible, records must be kept. A visiting Bee Inspector can ask to see your records if she/he thinks it necessary.
All in all things have gone well. Swarming has been a noticeable factor this year, not only at Dyffryn but at many apiaries. It is after all part of the honeybees life cycle.
Harold and Barbara Williams