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1) The Honey bee and the Apiary

Q:  How old does a queen need to be before she goes out on her mating flight?

A:  4-7 days old

Q:  What month do I first look at my bees?

A: You can change your floor board middle of March as long as you do not interfere with the brood, Middle of day 10-12 c

Q: When can I put supers on?

A: As soon as possible after first inspection, if you have already got supers on get queen excluder on between brood box & super, then you can add more till middle April if you have nectar coming in then put empty supers on under the first.

Q: I cannot get my bee’s to go into the supers?

A: If you have a pulled out super frame put that in if not leave queen excluder off for a few days so they go up.

Q: I cannot find the queen?

A: If you have day old eggs in the hive then you have a queen, if your eggs are more than 3 days old then she is getting ready to go or she has already gone.

Q: I think my hive is queen-less, what can I do?

A: if possible, obtain a frame from another hive with eggs and very young larva, but no bees on it. Place in your “queen-less” hive and look 3-4 days late. If you find queen cells; then your hive is most probably queen less.

Q: My hive has got a lot of bees and brood?

A: Make sure the queen has got plenty of room to lay eggs and have room to store honey.

2) The Apiary / Equipment

Q: What is a bee space? And why is it important?

A: a single bee space is: 5mm (1/4 in) to 9mm (3/8in). The bees will fill gaps which are smaller with propolis and those that are larger with brace comb.

Q:  what is the difference between top space and bottom space frames?

A: In top space frames the bee space is above the frames. In bottom space frames the bee space is under the frames.

Q: How do you keep your smoker alight?

A: Use a fuel that produces a cool smoke and burns slowly. Good fuel includes: old Hessian sacking, touch wood (very rotten, crumbly wood), grass cuttings, corn cobs (found on strips of fields set aside for pheasant rearing).  Pump the smoker at regular intervals whilst inspecting your bees. Have a supply of fuel ready for a quick “top-up” if necessary.

3) Honey

Q: When can I extract my honey?

A: If it is rape shake the frame and if no honey drops out you can harvest it, for the rest of the summer if it is ¾ capped you can harvest it.

Q: How do you extract crystallised honey?

A: cut out the comb and press the honey out.

Q: How do I warm Honey for bottling..?

A: Thermostatically controlled warming cabinets can be purchased from bee-keeping suppliers.  These will be approved by British standards and kite marked. It is Important to note that, for Health and Safety reasons, DIY methods of warming cabinets are not supported by Waveney Beekeepers Group as they could pose a serious fire hazard. Bee Safe out there.

4) Disease/Mites Etc:

Q:  I am finding a fair number of white, hard larva outside my hive – is this Chalk Brood and what can I do?

A:  Yes, it sounds like Chalk Brood. You may need to re-queen your hive if the problem persists.

Q:  I live near farm land and I have noticed large number of dead bees just outside my hive yesterday. Could this be due to crop spraying and what should I do?

A:  it could be due to crop spraying. Have a word with your local farmer, find out if they have been spraying locally, ask the farmer if they could try to spray early morning before the bees are flying and most importantly: bribe him a jar or two of your honey!

Q: When over wintering a hive with a mesh Varroa floor [OMF], is it preferable to leave the inspection tray in to help prevent heat loss or take it out to improve ventilation?
A: The advice from John Everett in our January Newsletter is:
"All my colonies over-winter on Varroa floors with the inspection tray removed - with open bottoms the way bee colonies would be in wild sites like hollow tree trunks."

I also keep my colonies on OMF (open mesh floor) all year round without the inspection trays in place as in my experience helps reduce damp and mould growing on the inside of the brood box.

However, I also know of many experienced bee-keepers who insert the monitor board during January/February to "help build up" their colonies early to take advantage of the oil seed rape flowering season.

I suppose either way is OK and only experience will tell you what you feel is best. The most important thing is to keep all your hives on an OMF and not a solid floor as this is proved to help reduce the Varroa problems.


For more information on Varroa check out this article at Wikipedia

Q: When should Oxalic Acid be applied?
A: Oxalic Acid needs to be applied between the last two weeks of Dec and the first two weeks of Jan, or thereabouts when the weather is cold, but dry and knowing our weather you choose. During this time there will be minimum brood in the hive.  As long as it is done before the end of Jan on a dry day without too much wind it should be successful.

 Bee & Apiary Apiary/Equip; Diseases etc; Honey