With Spring nearly upon us, it's essential that you complete any outstanding cleaning of your beekeeping kit before it is used again. Hive parts will last a lot longer if they are repaired as soon as a problem appears, but if you haven't had the chance to patch things up at the time, make sure you do it soon. And remember, repairing is much easier when the parts are dry.

The branch apiary had a thorough going over this weekend as, apart from the very blustery wind, the weather was tolerable.

As well as maintenance, cleaning is essential and will reduce your chances of disease and pest problems during the year. It's important that you scrape off your wax and propolis, scrub your polystyrene kit with a suitable washing soda and bleach solution and scorch your wooden kit, particularly in the crevices, where unpleasantness may be hiding.

Useful tools for this job are a stiff wire brush, a blowtorch and although it's marketed as a Wire Excluder Cleaner, this tool is great for scraping all the flat surfaces of your wooden kit as well.

You will find separating your hive parts easier if they are not propolised together. The bees will also be calmer if there isn't a struggle to prise things apart, so floors, brood boxes, supers, ekes, queen excluders and crown boards can all have their upper and lower contact surfaces (as well as the rebate that takes the frame lugs) treated with Petroleum jelly with white spirit added as a thinner. Using the thinner allows it to soak into the wood and you'll find that propolis won't stick, making cleaning easy.

I've found it easier to clean poly hives by lining them with aluminium adhesive tape (obtainable at many DIY stores) prior to using them. The propolis and wax don't adhere as well to the aluminium, and scrubbing with washing soda won't destroy the polystyrene. if the tape comes off for any reason during cleaning (which rarely happens in my experience), just re-line it.

I suspect that the aluminium also enhances the thermal properties of the hive, and my bees don't seem to mind it at all.

You will find a very good summary of cleaning guidance over at the Conwy Beekeepers website, and the official advice, along with many other gems at the Bee base "Advisory Leaflets, Training Manuals & Fact Sheets" page

 


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  • Social science study on how best to support beekeepers and bee farmers through education, information and advice
    20 January 2021
    Understanding how turnover (“churn”) among beekeepers can be managed and review information sources, learning methods and use of social media, to develop resources to support the beekeeping sector.

    Defra and Welsh Government have commissioned a social science study to gather information about different aspects of education and training. This includes getting a better understanding of how the turnover of beekeepers can be managed. It will also review information sources, learning methods and use of social media. The third part of the project will evaluate current continuous professional development schemes and resources to support bee farmers. The study which has just begun, has been contracted to ICF Consulting who have carried out a number of research projects in other areas for Defra. We are hoping that many beekeepers will participate in the project which will include a survey and further details will be announced soon.

    This work links into the Healthy Bees Plan 2030, working together to improve honey bee health and husbandry in England & Wales.
  • COVID-19 and Beekeeping update
    11 January 2021
    This is a re-issue of the guidance provided in October 2020:

    Please find the latest Covid-19 beekeeping guidance. The update includes separate links to the current Public Health Guidance for England, Wales and Scotland.

    Covid-19_and_Beekeeping_Update_v3

    COVID-19_and_Beekeeping_-_Welsh_Language_Version v3

    If you have any queries please contact:

    For England: BeeHealth.Info@defra.gov.uk
    For Wales: HoneyBeeHealth@gov.wales / GwenynMelIach@llyw.cymru
    For Scotland: Bees_Mailbox@gov.scot
  • Starvation and Varroa Alert
    04 December 2020
    Observations from beekeepers and Bee Inspectors across the UK suggest that some colonies of bees are becoming short of food.

    Please monitor your colonies throughout the coming months and feed as required to ensure your bees do not starve. A standard full size British National colony needs between 20-25 kg of stores to successfully overwinter. If they need feeding at this time then fondant should be used. This should be placed above the brood nest so that the bees are able to access it easily.

    For further information, please see the ‘Best Practice Guidance No. 7 - Feeding Bees Sugar’ on the following BeeBase Page: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167

    It has also been observed that Varroa levels in some hives are starting to increase again. This may be due to a number of factors, but the exceptionally mild weather this autumn has encouraged some colonies to produce more brood than usual which has allowed an increase in mite reproduction.

    Please monitor mite levels and treat accordingly.

    For further information, please see the’ Managing Varroa’ Advisory leaflet on the following BeeBase Page: http://www.nationalbeeunit.com/index.cfm?pageid=167