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Vita Bee Health Global Honeybee Health Experts

Blog – bees, beekeeping & other sticky subjects

Not a pretty picture, but a healthy one

The eviction of a young varroa mite

This is certainly not a pretty picture, but it does suggest that the bees in the observation hive might be good housekeepers.

Pictured is a bee disposing of a larva — and the reason is clear: there on the lower end of the larva is a young varroa mite. (Double-click on the picture to see an enlarged version.)

The bees are currently being treated with Apiguard varroa control.

And apologies for the quality of the image, but it is a rare sight and I had only one chance to snap it.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

More Than Honey – free screening in Basingstoke

There is a new film More Than Honey, highlighting the international plight of honeybees.  Featuring footage of traditional beekeeping in the Swiss Alps and commercial beekeeping in the almond orchards of California, there is some quite amazing and startling footage.

The film has not yet been released on DVD, but has been showing in some parts of the UK. Vita has managed to secure a copy from the distribuutors and in conjunction with Basingstoke College of Technology will be hosting a showing near Vita’s HQ in Basingstoke, UK, on the evening of Wednesday 16 October.

You will need a ticket, but they are free. Space is limited, so book your place now.

Busy again, but where?

Observation hive bees get into autumnal action rushing in and out of their tunnel to the great outdoors.

After a few weeks idle time, the observation hive bees are out and about again as often as the weather permits. I suspect the ivy is beginning to flower after the August gap. Ivy produces one of the few honeys that I loathe, but I like what it does to provide winter stores for the bees.

I’ve heard it said that its crystallization makes it hard for the bees to use in a cold winter, but here in southern England winters are mild enough to let the bees out frequently enough to gather water to help liquefy any solid stores.

This week, I saw the NASA honeybee forage map of the USA. Fascinating — by clicking on each state, you can see what the bee forage is, its significance and when it flowers.

For British beekeepers there is that marvellous short paper by Dorothy Hodges: A Calendar of Bee Plants. Published by IBRA in 1978, but giving average flowering times recorded in the 1940s and 50s it offers an almost frightening picture of climate change: it is very clear how earlier plants tend to flower now (this tardy spring excepted of course!).

And this year, the beekeeper must-have Plants for Bees, an updated version of the 1945 work of FN Howes’ Plants and Beekeeping was published.

But what I’d really like is a flightpath map to show where my bees are foraging. Any ideas?

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Beekeeper Blogger

How long can Apiguard be stored?

We’ve received a few queries about how long Apiguard can be stored.

Applying Apiguard

We know that, as long as the product has not been stored in hot conditions (in direct sun or above 30°C), Apiguard is stable for at least four years and probably up to six years in the sealed aluminium tray pack. We say three years’ stability on the label as this is the normal requirement but product dated June 2013 is perfectly OK to use this year.

However, if you are using a 3 kg tub, from which you have already used a large quantity, leaving a small residual amount of gel in the tub, this should be used with caution. If this is the case, you should try a little dose (25g) on a colony at a time to check the bees respond normally to it.  (If there is too much thymol and not enough liquid left, due to evaporation, then the product could be too powerful and will repel bees strongly, so try a little first and see what happens.) This should also be OK but we cannot guarantee used product past its shelf life.

Video on applying Apiguard:

I never knew housework could be quite so exhausting

Bee with a mission

I’ve just been watching — or rather I’ve just given up watching — a house-cleaning bee attempting to remove a bit of larva from the hive.

She clearly doesn’t know the hive layout too well as she cannot find the exit. I’ve watched her run up and down the sides tightly clutching her debris. Tantalisingly, I’ve seen her walk straight over the top of the exit several times. No amount of willing her, enables her to find the way out. But she does seem to understand its around the edge of the colony somewhere.

Perhaps it’s because it’s the younger bees which do the cleaning and are not yet foragers have not mapped their home yet. (John B Free’s book The Social Organisation of Honey Bees gives a very interesting series of diagrams showing the ages at which bees perform certain tasks.)

However, she is determined to remove the trash from the hive, unlike some people I know who just drop litter anywhere.

Turlough, Vita’s Guest Bee Blogger

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