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Covid Secure Apiary Visits

Courtesy of Nick Bentham Green our Covid secure Apiary Visits began in April and have been of immense value to new beekeepers like me. After my first visit I put together the brief report below to illustrate their value and encourage more attendees.

On a fine day I rolled up to rather lovely setting of Coombeshead Farm and met Nick for the first time.

For the second time ever and the first time in anger I put on my bee suit. The first bit of advice from Nick was an explanation for the use of the elasticated loop at the end of each arm. By locating over your thumb it prevents the sleeves rolling up . Obvious really but not to me! ( sheltered childhood and all that).

Nick then explained how he lights his smoker and the materials he uses. For Nick this is very much a "just in case" piece of practice throughout the days inspections we did not use the smoker at all.

There are 3 active hives at Coombeshead Farm.

The first was the most active and populous. Excellent frames of capped honey, brood , larvae ,pollen etc . The queen was quickly identified. We changed some frames and due to its advanced nature added a second super to provide more space. Nick stated that this hive will be the first to potentially swarm so this hive will need careful inspection at the next visit.

The second hive was in good order albeit less advanced. The marked queen was easily spotted ( by Nick) . Again frames were exchanged and rearranged . Nick thought this hive would need a second super but on inspection the existing super was relatively empty so this was not necessary.

The third hive was the least populous and active. Although we did not see the Queen we knew she was present and active due to the eggs and larvae present. This hive was left as is other than to replace the canister of sugar solution food. No cause for concern at this stage in the season.

The idea of regular weekly visits throughout April to July is to see how each hive progresses (or not) through the busiest period of the year.

So the following week we inspected all 3 hives again. Overall all three hives had advanced but the cool weather had probably limited. The third hive had advanced the least and was a cause for mild concern. Despite thorough search we still could not find the Queen but again eggs and larvae suggested she was present but not very active. Probable strategy for following inspection was to introduce workers from another hive to bolster numbers. Amongst many other pearls of wisfom imparted by Nick an interesting discussion ensued around the use of bait boxes and how to scent with lemongrass to attract swarms.

These are a couple of photos taken on my second visit.

Rearranging frames on the edge of the brood nest to create more space for the queen to lay

A healthy frame of bees with plenty of space for laying

I am looking forward to attending Coombeshead Farm on as many Saturdays as possible through coming months and will find them invaluable when my own bees arrive in June.

Presentation via Zoom on the Asian Hornet

Last Friday 23rd April we had our zoom presentation. Gerry Stuart gave a fascinating talk on the subject of Asian Hornets, their characteristics and how Asian Hornet Action Team and the National Bee Unit work to find and eradicate. We came out with a clear idea of the threat they pose, and the responsibility we all have to assist by being vigilant and reporting accurately. Personally I also came away with a certain admiration for this insect and its way of life. Many thanks to all that attended from our Group and those from other Groups within the CBKA.

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