Over recent decades the general rule (received wisdom) has been to crack open the thin crownboard and leave a gap above the hive which doesn’t make sense to me. However reading some old books over the past few months it appears that prior to around the second world war, quilts were added which would have a similar effect as polystyrene insulation does now which is what I have done for several years. Why do we accept 20% winter losses as ‘normal’ when losses a long time ago were much less?
I’ll post more of this later!
I was asked to collect a small late swarm a week ago. It had been hanging from a fence for 3 days. Hived OK in a nuc, it’s happy enough but the virgin queen has yet to mate so the colony will be united with another. At least they were ‘rescued’ rather than left to an uncertain fate and will strengthen another colony to increase the cluster size to help it get through the winter. The colony that it’s from – now diminished and probably without a laying queen – will fail over winter unless intervention by a beekeeper occurs. Autumn is fast approaching and it’s unlikely that any mating will occur now.
Two colonies are throwing up supercedure cells. One is now on it’s third queen who is laying well so I have cut the two queencells out. The other one has one sealed queencell and a 2012 queen present. I wonder whether I should cut my losses and unite with another colony as it’s getting quite late in the year for a queen to mate…
I am waiting for the ivy to start flowering which gives plenty of nectar and pollen for winter stores. However I wonder if the warm weather is delaying it and by the time the flowers open we will be well into autumn? Just a concern?
It’s the usual thymol treatment for the hives around now – some have already been finished. MOST have had a low varroa drop with a few having something larger which is in common with other beekeepers in the UK. Must be the weather and a brood-break earlier in the year. Hives are gathering little at the moment so they are being feeded if needed. I need to get them fully-fed for the winter. I hope they get full by around the middle of September which is in plenty of time.