February Bee Notes
I can tick off one New Year’s resolution – I have a hive scales in place! It was designed and made here by our carpenter and is a very simple design using an upturned scales – the numbers reflected in a mirror. The hive sits directly on top of the upturned scales.
The most difficult thing was to find one of the old style scales. A digital scales is hard to read as the numbers would be upside down and there is the issue of switching it on and off! I had to buy a digital scales and swop it with someone for the older variety.
The hive scales provides lots of useful information – you can measure the honey coming in during a flow or the stores being used in the winter months. It helps you determine when a honey flow begins, and ends. A sudden drop in weight, of maybe three pounds, would tell you that a colony has probably swarmed.
Record the weight at the same time each day so you can get accurate comparisons. It is best done at dusk as all the foragers will be home but then it maybe difficult to read the scales!
A comment in last months Irish Beekeeping Journal was interesting and explained something that I experienced last summer.
At the end of August I came across what I was fairly sure was a queen less colony or two.
They had drones well into September and no sign of brood in late August or early September. As a drastic measure I decided to unite one of these to a queen right colony. When I went to reduce them some days later, I discovered a beautiful brood pattern in the supposedly queenless colony! A big mistake!!
An explanation is that the queen had stopped laying during the latter part of August as there was no nectar available. Once the ivy started to yield pollen and nectar she began laying again
This tendency of our native bee to taper off or even stop laying for a while during August gives it an advantage.
This break in laying is also useful as it provides for more effective results in varroa treatment as no mites are protected in sealed brood cells.
This trait is not shared by imported queens who continue to lay heavily only to provide a bee population well in excess of requirement at that time of year and safe hiding places for many mites sealed in cells.
Another New Year’s resolution is to be better prepared for Anaphylactic shock. I have seen this happen to two novice beekeepers and it is quite frightening. It can happen after one or several stings. You can have been stung before and have had no reaction and suddenly collapse and loose consciousness.