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Beekeepers Blog - August 2021

Beekeepers Blog - August 2021

The August edition of our 2021 blog. Written by the beekeepers here at Thornes.

The bees have continued their busy activities this month, but during our inspections we have noticed they have been a bit light on stores. Going through some of the hives, we can see that if left to their own devices, they wouldn’t have enough honey in there to sustain themselves, especially now as we head into autumn with less for them to forage on. We can tell they’re hungry also by hefting the hive to check the weight and by looking at where the bees are on the frame. When bees are hungry, there are often lots of them with their heads in a cell, (normally round the tops of the frames) trying to get any honey out that they can. So next month’s first job will be to feed!

As mentioned last month, the wasps are definitely interested in the hives now and we even have a wasp nest in the ground in our museum apiary. We often get wasp nests here but not always quite so close to the bees. Last year we had one in the roof at the entrance to our office HQ and some of you may remember we found one in the laurel bush at our Lakes apiary back in June. They probably hang around here so much just on the off chance that one of our honeybee colonies is weak enough for them to plunder its stores. We try really hard to keep the bees strong enough to fend off these predators but inevitably, any smaller colonies do sometimes succumb to their relentless attacks.

With this in mind, we have reduced the hives’ entrances down to one bee space. This just helps them to defend their colony more easily. With the weather we’re having here at the minute, it won’t be long until we are thinking about putting mouseguards on!

Of course, this is the time of year when treating for varroa is really important. Getting the numbers of mites down now is imperative so that lots of healthy bees that need to survive the long winter can be made. This will be an early September job and we will probably use Apivar because this treatment isn’t temperature dependent like most others. We also only have to go in the hives once to put it in and then once to quickly take it out, whereas some other autumn treatments require the beekeeper to go in the hive several times.

So next month we will still have plenty to do. It will be a case of feeding the bees up, continuing to protect from wasps and treating for varroa. We’ll also be looking to tidy up the apiary and the cabin where we make a mess during the season because we’re too busy beekeeping. This is not a job we look forward to but one that must be done!

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