Time to deploy!

It is time to deploy bait hives to attract lost swarms. They are easy and inexpensive to setup and provide a valuable service by capturing lost swarms. Current social distancing regulations preclude effective mentoring, meaning it is likely more queen cells will be missed and more swarms will be lost. Potential future restrictions could significantly impact beekeeping, so bait hives deployed now might be useful for several months. Be prepared … an entirely appropriate phrase as you’re trying to attract the scout bees.

Bees in the time of corona

We are living in interesting times. The coronavirus pandemic has, in the space of a week, dramatically changed the structure and interactions of society. What impact will the coronavirus pandemic have on beekeeping? It depends upon your experience and preparation. Social distancing will impact mentoring, sales and – if extended to lockdowns – access to your colonies. If you are just beginning you will probably have to do without a mentor. You may struggle to source colonies for sale if imports are restricted for any reason. However, there are likely to be more swarms and deploying bait hives might stop the bees bothering other people. Although there are lots of certainties in the beekeeping season – mites, swarms, honey – this year looks like being very uncertain and very unusual.

Darwinian beekeeping

Darwinian beekeeping (beecentric, beefriendly or natural beekeeping) sounds appealing. The very name suggests that those of us that treat for mites or actively manage colonies are ‘unnatural’. However, although the underlying science is sound, the activities involved in Darwinian beekeeping are at times the very opposite of ‘beefriendly’. As beekeepers we have a responsibility to our livestock and to other beekeepers we share the environment with. Many ‘beefriendly’ activities outlined in Thomas Seeley’s proposals for Darwinian beekeeping are likely to be to the detriment of bees, beekeepers and beekeeping.

Income and outgoings

I discussed beekeeping economics a couple of weeks ago. I used some potentially questionable survey data on hive numbers, winter losses, honey yields and pricing, together with ‘off the shelf’ costs for frames, sugar and miticides. Even ignoring the costs of travel and depreciation on equipment the ‘profit’ was not substantial. Actually, it was just […]

Droning on

This post was supposed to be about Varroa resistance in Apis mellifera – to follow the somewhat controversial ‘Leave and let die’ from a fortnight ago. However, pesky work commitments have prevented me doing it justice so it will have to wait for a future date. Instead I’m going to pose some questions (and provide some partial […]

Equipment for beginners

As a new beekeeping season gears up we’re approaching the time of year when beginners will start acquiring nucs or swarms to start their own colonies. Beekeeping is an excellent hobby. It involves physical work outdoors. It is cerebral, requiring good observation, thought and interpretation. You produce delicious honey for your breakfast, your family and […]