December 2022 Apiary Notes from Wally Thrale

We are approaching the shortest day so it is the time of year I apply my varroa treatment in the form of oxalic acid using the trickle method. For safety reasons I prefer this method rather than vaporisation as oxalic gases are harmful to humans and require a suitable mask to prevent inhaling the gas. Brood boxes also need sealing to retain the vapours which is time consuming with my floors. An example of a commercially available treatment is Apibioxal which is ready to apply. The reason I use this type of treatment is that there should be very little brood present now as oxalic acid only kills varroa mites on adults – it doesn’t impact those in sealed cells. The weather has not been mild recently so hopefully queens have stopped laying. However, when we get into January I consider that egg laying starts up again, albeit at a low level. So I shall start treating my colonies in the week before Christmas when little brood should be present.

The forecast for the coming week is for cold weather with overnight frosts and possibly becoming very cold. All colonies should have woodpecker netting wrapped around them – when the ground becomes frozen woodpeckers often target hives, doing considerable damage in the process. Also, to help to reduce heat loss I place a 50mm piece of insulation above the crown board (and under the roof). As all my colonies have mesh floors the insulation does not cause ventilation problems.

It should not be necessary to feed fondant to colonies yet if they were fed well in the autumn. Colonies typically run low on stores towards the end of winter. But do check colonies for weight by hefting them. Bees will take fondant in cold weather but not syrup. As the bees were flying until late autumn they may have used up some of their winter stores. Several of the Association stockists have supplies of fondant so contact the appropriate one to obtain a supply.

As this is the Centenary for the Association there are several ways this milestone is being celebrated. One is to donate a hundred jars or more to raise funds for food banks in Luton and Bedford. As we have more than 500 members that target should be reached easily. If you would like to donate a jar (or two) for this worthy cause please take your donation to your District Advisor or local stockist. It is the time for giving and beekeepers have a special product that we can share with others. Thank you.

That’s all for 2022 so season’s greetings to all.