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Some Helpful thoughts for busy urban beekeepers

Kindly shared by Michael Badger MBE

1. Your bee colonies will only swarm if they have a Queen present? They will not swarm without one …

2. Bee colonies must have their own.Drones present in the hive before they will swarm

3. Your Drones must be “marriage intent” … check by a simple test…The Drones must be seen to be flying on the wing

4. Get proficient at finding the Queen … keep Queens marked … practice on Drones … then try a few Workers… if you have got the technique right, not a problem… if you have not you will be stung

5. Use dentist type gloves to keep propolis off your fingers …. wash your hands frequently … see below

6. Avoid using leather gloves as they harbour bee venom pheromones … also you cannot wash these type of gloves

7. Have a bucket of clean soapy water to hand …. constantly wash your hands to obviate the smell of bee venom … the smell of bee venom upsets the bees

8. More colonies die out from early March onwards through lack of stores caused by early breeding and mild climates

9. No colony will do well in a windy aspect… bees need shelter …

10. Feed if required by using “Baker’s fondant” .. .. do not give them hard /brick type homemade candy … they need the moisture to assist with the production of “brood food” rather than using their own retained metabolic fluid …

11. Read books on the bee’s physiology and anatomy … understand the bee, and you will become a better beekeeper ….

12. Beware of reading American Books for practical beekeeping: read books that are about English beekeeping

13. A good practical book is William Hamilton’s “Art of Beekeeping”, it is dated in respect of diseases and technical bumf, but there are many practical and timely tips that are useful to new beekeepers …. ..

14. Don’t ask one beekeeper to give advice and then seek advice from another … you rarely relay the same problem/issue to the second expert.. …. and you end up with incorrect advice …..

15. Remember too .. . a beekeeper who manage 5 hives usually comes out better than those with a round dozen

16. Equipment, Equipment, Equipment.. .. lots of new beekeepers have a shortage of essential gear. .. when things go wrong they are helpless to solve a problem … always have lots of spare kit.. .. (brood and supers, floors, frames) it pays dividends to have it available ….. a couple of Butler cages are a must.. .. make sure they have been cleaned well..

17. Use an athlete’s sweat band around the head and wrists … stop’s getting sweat in the eyes …

18. Spend money on a good veil. .. and good boots too …

19. Watch the bees at the entrance, a good beekeeper can”read’ a colony by observation of how it is doing

20. Wintering your stocks on two brood boxes (unless using Commercial or Langstroths) gives the bees a natural way of wintering; they do not winter as well when clustering on sealed stores …

21. Bees returning from the heather moor should always be wintered this way and giving them a feed of warm syrup after the crop as been removed allows them to seal up those combs where there is unsealed honey.

22. Crown Boards for beekeepers …. Quilts for peepers?????

23. Use only “Contact Feeders” for feeding bees in the spring …. a simple feeder is a honey jar, screwed cap with a few nail holes punched through and inverted over feed hole … once you start feeding you might have to continue ….

24. Simple varroa check, insert a drawn shallow comb next to the pollen comb in early April, the burr drone comb drawn will attract the Queen to lay, this will attract the varroa, which will indicate the mite levels present …

25. Always ensure your smoker is lit…good smoker fuel is heartwood from old willow trees … it lights easily, it is a cool smoke too ….. and have matches, lighter to hand … dry smoker fuel in the solar wax extractor~ …

26. Do not use a water sprayer until you are confident at handling your bees ….

27. Wasps pay havoc in the apiary … set up a wasp trap early in the season … a large jar with top, make hole big enough for wasp to get into .. .fill jar with a couple of inclles of beer or jam …. place near the apiary …

28. Replace brood combs regularly by changing combs every 3 years …. place old combs on the flanks as the season progresses …

29. If a colony is found to be week reduce to a nucleus box or contract hive down with brood box packed with dummy my boards and sacking or other packing … as colony builds up expand as required …

30. To reduce swarming … Abundance of room… keep two frames of sealed food during the active season…. remove old & poor combs
Young Queens best option… but again must have abundance of room…
The strain of bee has a bearing… when they produce Queen cells note the number… the lesser amount the better
Good ventilation… keep hives out of direct sunlight
Minimise Drone brood… a colony must have Drones; they are part of the colony make-up.

Finally ….. Make use of your RBI and SBI. Use them or we will lose them, remember dead colonies get no honey!

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