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Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects

HopGuard approval process

HopGuard TestAt Vita’s offices yesterday, Max, Alexandra and Zahir met to discuss the next stages in the process to achieve pan-European approval for HopGuard, a varroa control treatment.

One of the next steps is residue assessment: when applied how much, if any, Hopguard will find its way into wax and honey.

To be able to assess residues accurately, a benchmarking test must be performed by independent laboratory.  they take samples of wax and honey and impregnate them separately with known amounts of Hopguard.

The laboratory then measures the amount of Hopguard that can be detected in the samples. This measurement then provides the benchmark for subsequent field tests.

Here, Max is pictured taking some comb with honey (from a bell jar) to send to the testing laboratory.

This is just one of the many tests that a regulated treatment such as Hopguard must undergo.

The process is quite expensive, but when approvals are granted it does give beekeepers the assurance that they are dealing with a thoroughly tested and safe treatment.

Will she or won’t she? (She did!)

Virgin Queen on Day 3

Virgin Queen on Day 3

Queen on Day 25

Queen on Day 25

The observation hive has been in action for a few weeks now — and is as mysterious as ever.

There’s a queen, a retinue, but no brood or eggs yet …

On 17 May, I believe the virgin queen emerged from her cell. She has been tricky to see because she is so dark, but I’ve seen at regular intervals.

Now, on Day 25, she appears to be mated and is going through the motions of egg-laying — but no eggs are yet visible.

In fact she has been going through the motions of egg-laying since I first saw her! Practice makes perfect , I suppose.

The books say that mating usually takes place 6-10 days after emergence and that she will start laying 2-3 days after that. Obviously she is behind schedule!

Nonetheless I have hopes that she is now mated and getting ready to lay because of the respect paid to her by her ever-changing retinue. She also looks a little plumper!

Her workers obviously think she has The Right Stuff.

 

 

 

 

IMG_5452Update 15 June:

At last! She has successfully mated and is now laying. She first emerged on 17 May, but she didn’t start laying until 7 June at the earliest — and not really in earnest until several days later.

Here you can see the developing larvae — and one sealed cell, though I’m not convinced that it contains a developing honeybee.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

Hangout on bee diseases

Last month, Sebastian Owen appeared in a Hangout (public video conference call) about bee diseases, specifically Nosema and Chronic Bee Paralysis.

On the hangout, organised by Bee Craft, the UK’s beekeeping magazine, Sebastian was joined by Julian Routh, BBKA and Seasonal Bee Inspector, James Dearsley of Bee Craft  and Rhodri Powell of the Welsh beekeepers

The video is about one-hour long, and packs in lots of useful information.

You can see more of the monthly Bee Craft Hangouts here.

Swarm in search of company, but not a home

Swarm prefers leeward side of an apiary tree to a cosy brood box.

Swarm prefers leeward side of an apiary tree to a cosy brood box.

As I approached a newish apiary last weekend, I wondered where any swarms might choose to hang up. I had never seen a swarm leave that apiary before.  I was busy working on the final hive and happened to glance up …

The swarm wasn’t even from my apiary and it had chosen to settle on a tree rather than in a brood box right by it! It must have been there for quite a while as it had left quite a bit of wax on the tree trunk — and the wax traces also showed how the swarm was gradually moving up the trunk.

It was safely hived and is drawing comb to try to quarantine any disease it might be carrying in its honey. That comb will be melted down and the bees can start afresh in a new hive.

I have no idea of the origin of the swarm , but clearly it wanted company by settling in my apiary.

UPDATE 9 June 2015 The swarm was homed by a new beekeeper and is apparently doing well with the queen laying already. A further inspection of my own hives showed conclusively that it wasn’t from my apiary.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

What a lot of bee auction bargains

IMG_0319Last Saturday saw the annual Meon Valley Beekeeping Auction in Hampshire, England.

Two hundred lots were up for auction, some mainstream some quirky, and many bargains

  • a vintage honey extractor (too vintage and with too much tin plate to fetch more than £1!)
  • branding iron (for hives rather than bees, I presume)
  • selection of Langstroth hives (not that popular in Britain, but common in Hampshire because of its preference by a beekeeping college a couple of decades ago).
  • two heather presses (one antique) emphasising the location of the auction as being close to the ling heather of the New Forest
  • and a no longer manufactured Strainaway but very popular system for dealing with oil seed rape. It fetched £80, I think.

As always the lots that attracted most attention: three colonies of live bees. There appeared to be four bidders seeking the bees and the lots fetched (in order of sale): £130, £165, £180 or approx €181, €229, and €250, or $203, $257 and $281 respectively.

Honeybee health was a top priority. The live bees had been inspected for disease and several lots of bees were refused because they had been submitted too late for inspection.  Much if not all of the hive equipment had been scorched to nullify any potential bee disease spread.

IMG_0326And of course there was something that everyone came for: the superb soups, bacon butties and cakes — all delicious and also available at bargain prices.

Turlough
Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

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