Ethel Irvine of Fermanagh Beekeepers’ Association writes that Fermanagh Beekeepers scored highly this year, reflecting the resilience of our local bees to a cool summer with a few short hot springs.
Here, Ethel shares what August means to local beekeepers.
It is heartening to hear from some new beekeepers who have just completed the “Introduction to Beekeeping” course that they are able to harvest from their newly acquired bees.
Even our colonies at the Association’s apiary – somewhat decimated by the Lakeland Queen Breeding Group’s efforts to keep the queencell starter and finishing colonies at full strength – produced large amounts of honey.
Given the summer conditions, there was little rain to encourage the flower to produce nectar, and the dew that often activates nectar in warm weather, especially on white clover, was absent, but the honey bees took advantage of it. every opportunity to collect nectar and turn it into honey. Hello to our bees!
Usually in August the queen bees will cut back on egg laying, but this year there hasn’t been as much reporting as in other years.
I don’t know if this means that the expected brood reduction is not happening, or if the less than warm weather in our Fermanagh summer means that the queen bees are laying eggs at a more steady rate, but not at the high numbers of other years? this means that they did not have to take their usual “rest”.
By September, the colonies are still strong enough to have many bees.
After the honey harvest is removed, each frame in each hive should be checked for disease, usually American Foul Brood or European Foul Brood, but any abnormalities should also be noted so they can be dealt with as soon as possible.
It is useful to note whether chalk is present and at what level. At this time of year, given the favorable and stressful conditions for bees, it shouldn’t be present, so if a queen is seen mating and laying eggs, it’s worth checking the queens again. .
Otherwise, make plans to tackle it next spring. Assess the condition of each frame and if one is old, black and has lots of deformed cells, move it to the back of the brooder so it can be removed early next season.
After removing the honey, replace it with the liquid feed of your choice, either one of the commercially produced invert sugar solutions or a 2:1 solution of sugar to water.
This food should be given in a rapid feeder so that the bees can take it while the weather is still relatively warm and before they form a dense cluster and the syrup ferments. Fermented stores are not suitable for hibernating bees.
Also, make an informed decision about how much to feed them – and stick to it, because the bees will deplete their fluid stores as the beekeeper continues to feed them.
About 20 kg of stores should last a colony until next spring, especially if there is a good flow from the ivy.
Fundan does not make a good fall food because bees have to constantly access it even in cold weather. It is more suitable for them to have their own “pantry” near the nest where it is needed.
Bees are still not a problem in my area. Reduced entrances and strong colonies are a recipe for avoiding marauding wasps that will take not only stores, but also carnivorous larvae and bees.
Bee traps are very effective but should not be placed in the apiary as they may attract them.
All beekeepers should now be in the midst of treating their colonies with the approved Varroa treatment of their choice.
When using any medication, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding both the amount to be applied, the duration of treatment, and recommended safety precautions for both bees and beekeepers.
A lot of research has been done before these treatments are approved for use, and we would be foolish to ignore the advice.
There are some videos and articles of beekeepers using their control methods that should be viewed with caution until scientific evidence emerges to support any claims.
Many of us will remember the promotion of mineral oil misting to control Varroa and how it was allowed to gradually fade into obscurity because it didn’t work.
Beekeepers are also reminded that the source, batch numbers, disposal, etc. of all drugs legally used on them.
The professional beekeeping course resumes in mid-October. The course is designed for those who have completed an Introduction to Beekeeping course or equivalent and wish to continue their education.
As part of the two-year class study, 15 sessions will be held next year and students will complete workbooks as part of the assessment process.
Brian Dane will be the tutor, and he plans to meet with Zoom online meetings on Tuesday evenings, weekly but one free evening each month, to give students time to complete their workbooks and take a break over Christmas.
This means that the “classroom” aspect of the course and the completion of the workbooks is more or less done by spring and before the beekeeping season is in full swing.
Those who have completed their first year of study should apply through the Cafre website, and those who wish to start should apply using the Cafre system.
FBKA members trained at this level would thoroughly recommend the course as it provides a better understanding of how a colony functions, bee behavior and the reasons for that behavior.
If you would like more information, see the Cafre website at www.cafre.ac.uk and type ‘beekeeping’ in the search box or contact Brian directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 077 1157 1420.
Fermanagh Beekeepers Association held their Ball Show at Florence Court House on Sunday 28th August with entries accepted, staged and judged, followed by a public open on Monday 29th August.
Ball Show Secretary Avril Campbell and her assistants had a busy morning with the number of entries very close to our 2019 record which was very pleasing considering we have not held a Show for two years.
Avril thanks all her helpers and everyone who entered the Show for supporting a very successful event.
It is especially gratifying that some newcomers to the field of beekeeping participated in the competition and won prizes, and many others participated and supported.
Jim Fletcher, a well-known and respected score judge, judged the entries and, as always, spent time talking to anyone who asked how they could improve the standard of their entries.
By entering an item in the show, the entrant’s presentation skills are honed and the public gets the opportunity to see all forms of honey, including confections, waxwork, honey cakes and bee-related honey. craft entries.
The honey from the FBKA apiary sold very well, which shows how much the local product is valued and appreciated by the community.
Visitors showed great interest in how the honey goes from the frame to the beehive, among other things, giving the beekeepers an opening to explain the process along with the beneficial properties of honey.