Thursday, 24 October 2013

Time To Protect Your Hives!- 5 tips keeping them safe.

Photo copyright© The Hive Honey Shop 2013

There are so many things that bees need to fight off, just to stay alive. You can help these little ones by providing some added protection in October. Heres a brief check list.

1 Wire Mesh Protection
Woodpeckers love beehives. They see the insects flying out and will peck the thin areas of the wooden hive ( mainly the grooved out finger grips) until they produce a good sized hole. They feast on the bees as they emerge one at a time. They will ruin your hive and kill your bees. I have had sites that for years never had any woodpecker interest- then out of the blue all the hives over night have holes. So we need to protect the hives in the Autumn until May time, after that there are plenty of other woodland insects in abundance to interest our woodpeckers and hopefully not our hives. We cover them with smallish chicken wire mesh. It’s easy to remove if we need to inspect a hive. It keeps the woodpeckers a safe distance off our hives. They can be used for many years.

2 Mouse Excluders
Even if you have never seen a mouse- they are out there and will find your hive! A mouse excluder is a strip on metal with holes big enough for a bee to come and go, but ‘excludes’ a mouse. If these are not put on in autumn a mouse will climb into your beehive, via the entrance, and nest there eating one bee at a time until none remain.

3 Paving Slab On Roof
Gale winds can blow a roof off and your bees will get drenched with fallen rain. We did tie the roofs down but found some roofs warped in the winter weather. So we use a heavy paving slab on the top and the weight keeps the roof shape in order as well as providing additional rain guard and wind weight.

4 Fencing & Screening
As hedges die back, hives are exposed. This can present problems. If you have animals near by, they can wander up, knock hives and disturb and stress your bees, who will in turn dwindle and die. Another problem is vandals and robbing of hives. In this current time of a shortage of bees, thief of hives have risen by 25%. It is important- ‘Out Of Sight, Out of Mind’. Screening by natural  means or artificial, provide wind protection, but allows an open air flow without condensation build up.

5 Match Stick Air Gap
Condensation within your hive is a bad thing! Bees die as a result of wet, dank, cold conditions. You can help them by providing ample air flow for them to expel any water vapor build up. A match stick placed across the four corners of the brood box, below the overboard provides a tiny gap, too small for wasps and other bees to enter, but large enough for a good flow through of air.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

October Beekeeping Advice- Plan for next year now!

You should have your beehives just about closed down for the winter. We always change the brood box, floor and coverboard for nice clean dry ones. We also change over as many frames with drawn new foundation that we prepared in the summer. We like to collect full brood boxes of honey and keep these back to feed to our hives in the run up to winter. They do really well with a full fresh honey feed in October.

So planning ahead is key to successful beekeeping. Now that you have a bit of quite time it’s a perfect opportunity to gather your thoughts on how you will strive to be a better beekeeper next year. What steps can you take to ensure the well being of your bees? 
Here’s a few idea:

Pro-active measures that can be put in place.

Here at The Hive Honey Shop we all sit down and write our ‘New Season Bee Planner’. We discuss what areas we could build on, what was lacking last year, what improvements could be put in place. We make a list of equipment that needs to be repaired or replaced. We look at apiary sites that need better securing, wind hedging, animal proofing. Can a site hold more hives, less hives. What hives need to be re-queened, how will we implement nuc building and keep our strains of bees pure.

Our planner has a sort of ‘wish list’ of ideas set out month by month. We aim to be as realistic as we can and work towards achieving those goals month by month in the new year. We find that by questioning our beekeeping management we are far better prepared for the year ahead, not letting it lead us, but we lead it.

In the end our beekeepers are happier and our bees are far happier too!

Photo copyright© The Hive Honey Shop 2013