Dear Members,

You may have noticed a lot of butterflies around this summer. It is a delight to see them flitting from flower to flower with their splendid colours on view, but it also reminds me that as the butterflies are prospering, so of course are moths, and wax moths among them.

 

Hopefully by now you will have removed your honey crop and are storing your supers. Although wax moths prefer brood comb, supers in which pollen has been stored will also prove attractive, so make sure supers are stored in such a way that wax moth cannot get at the wax by placing a solid crown board top and bottom of the stack.

When I started beekeeping I was told, in addition, to enclose the stack in large bin liners. Now, as we are all trying to reduce our use of single use plastic, this is not a good idea, and anyway wax moths are now being considered as useful destroyers of plastic waste as they will reduce a plastic bag to dust! Scary to think however of how many wax moths will be required to eat through the mountain of plastic we create.

I understand that the Greater Wax moth is also partial to chewing away at polystyrene hives, another good reason perhaps for not using these hives?

If all this talk of wax moths is making you feel queasy, and you are finding the Covid situation is getting you down, take a few minutes to watch and listen to this delightful BBC video Tim Riggs sent me

We are now entering another important period in beekeeping, but once you have ascertained that your colonies are queenright, and have sufficient stores ( at least 20 Kilo of nectar and some stored pollen) try not to disturb them and make sure that you have treated colonies that are showing a high varroa load.

While there is increasing evidence that our bees are beginning to deal with varroa themselves, it is not recommended that you suddenly stop treating your bees with an approved varroacide. Particularly if you are in an area with other beekeepers close by, there is always the possibility of drifting that will spread varroa.

The hot weather in April and May has brought forward flowering times and you may have noticed that ivy is already starting to flower in sunny protected areas. As Ivy is the last source of nectar for our bees, if your bees have access to this amazingly fruitful crop, you may find that you do not need to feed your bees now, or that they are reluctant to take down the syrup you provide. The bee’s own honey is always best for them to survive on, but this early crop may mean that as colonies are not yet reduced to their winter size, much of what they collect may be consumed, so you will need to ensure later in the year they have enough stores to get them through the winter.

Oh how looking after bees continually gives us new challenges!

Remember that although wasps are now causing a nuisance around hives, that they too are essential in the ecosystem and are valuable predators of garden pests.

Regards, and stay safe and well,
Margaret Holdsworth


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