Norfolk Beekeepers' Association Jobs For July

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July (2007)

The warm period during April and May saw the rapid expansion of overwintered stocks of bees, providing they had a good queen and an adequate amount of stores. Starter colonies (nuclei, nucs etc.), settled in in April and May, have a good chance of building up and hopefully give the beekeeper a surplus of honey. Those started off in July should be looked at in a different way. The main thing is to get such stocks built up for the winter and the new year ahead. As with all livestock, ensure adequate food supply. If the weather is unfavourable with little nectar coming in, a feed should be given. Both early and late nucs benefit from a gallon of sugar syrup [a ratio of approximately two kg. of sugar mixed with a litre of water] to settle them down. In most cases six new frames will need to be built out and there will lots of brood to feed. The manipulation of full stocks should follow much the same pattern of inspection as that carried out in May and June. This year's "June Gap" (the ending of the Spring flush of flowers and the start of nectar flow from summer plants) has lasted longer than for many years. The expected length is about two weeks, unless you are lucky enough to have late flowering field beans nearby, which can fill this gap, if the temperature and humidity is right.

By now stocks which have swarmed should have young queens laying. Check that the brood is good worker brood. Some queens which have failed to mate, possibly due to bad weather or other problems, start to lay and all offspring produced are drones. If left, the stock will inevitably die out. The remedy is to remove the failed queen and either replace her or insert a frame of young unsealed brood from a donor stock - ideally with a queen cell. A newly hatched queen is referred to by beekeepers as a "virgin queen" and should be left undisturbed for at least four weeks. When transferring young brood to assist another stock the bees should be bushed off (a wisp of grass or similar can be used if no bee-brush is to hand). To shake the bees off may cause damage to the brood or queen cell. The spare comb from the recipient hive can be used in the donor hive, providing all hives are disease free. If disease or any problem with the brood is suspected, a simple phone call to the NBKA Disease Liason Officer, Area Advisor or to one of the Central Science Lab. (CSL) Bees Inspectors (www.nationalbeeunit.com) can have the problem diagnosed and sorted. To do nothing invites more problems for both bees and beekeeper, but may cost little or nothing to remedy.

Resistance to Pyrethroid strips (Apistan and Bayvarol) is now wide spread throughout the Eastern Region and such treatment should not be relied on to control the parasitic mite Varroa. The late summer and spring use of Apiguard which has Thymol as the control ingredient is now recommended. If crawling bees with deformed wings are seen, a liberal dusting of the bees in the brood chamber with icing sugar, in conjuction with a mesh floor in position is quite effective, as is the use of Drone brood removal (along with lots of mites). A shallow frame placed in the centre of the brood nest where the bees can build an extension of drone comb is an effective part of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and again costs very little. A deep frame with Drone base foundation fitted and placed in the centre of the brood nest has an increased benefit, EITHER METHOD REQUIRES THE DRONE BROOD TO BE REMOVED BEFORE IT HATCHES AND DESTROYED TO BE EFFECTIVE. If a resistance check to pyrethroid strips is carried out and a reasonable degree of efficacy is obtained, then Apistan or Bayvarol could still be used as part of IPM after supers are removed.


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