Maybe you did a beginners beekeeping course, then someone gave you a split from their colony, or you got a swarm, or the nucleus hive you ordered arrived ? You survived your first season of beekeeping ! Hurrah, they got through the winter.
With the new season you realise it’s quite some time since your beginners course, and the bees didn’t quite behave as the course may have indicted ( different strains of bees, local conditions, different hives, different weather, beekeeper error…yes we ALL make errors). All that you learned about swarm control was never put into practice, or you did it in a muddled way and weren’t sure if you did it right. The season is so short, and apiary visits are too few in one season !
Maybe you’ve been keeping bees for a while and you want to be reminded of best practice, and how to implement the recommendations that are being made by NBU (National Bee Unit) in order to identify and control diseases. http://www.nationalbeeunit.com ( Loads of useful info).
Being keen on upskilling and training beekeepers in best practice, we ran an intermediate course for all these reasons, led by Julia Pigott of BeeEd http://www.beeed.org.uk .
Julia is also a SBDI (Seasonal Bee Diseases Inspector) and knows the best current practices in honeybee disease prevention and identification.
We met at Clara Vale Village Hall, and had a mix of PowerPoint presentations and hands on practical demos.
A sample of bees was taken from two different colonies. It goes against the grain for any beekeeper to kill a bee, but sometimes it’s necessary for the greater good of the colony. This is the way bees themselves work, so we shouldn’t feel guilty ! The bees were humanely killed by freezing. We removed the head, thorax and wings so that we were left with the abdomens. These were finely crushed with water, and the resulting mass was put onto slides for examination under the microscope.
We were looking for rice shapes on the slide. One sample was from an untreated swarm, which looked weak after winter. We found some suspicious looking particles.
Jola had brought a sample of her bees, and was pleased to find that they were healthy !
We went through the details of why, how and when to do “Shook Swarming”. This is recommended as a major element in “IPM” (Integrated Pest Management) and disease control. It cuts down use of chemical in the hive and is something we should all be doing. If you want to know more about it come along to meetings and we will show you !
And there was loads more. If you want to know, come on our courses !
Of course no Tyneside beekeepers event would be without food, and we feasted on two kinds of home made soup, two kinds on home made bread, two kinds of home made biscuit, but only one variety of scone !