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Where’s Bridget?

Hi there, you looking for Bridget?

She's over at www.arignagardener.wordpress.com

3 comments to Where’s Bridget?

  • Andrew,

    I followed you here from Twitter. I’d be terribly interested in how you are caring for your bees as we had heavy losses this winter. We are putting it down to colony collapse because they didn’t get any chemical treatement for verroa other than a dusting of icing sugar last autunm and lack of experience – this is only our third year. Both lost hives were weak going into winter while the strong ones survived but an examination when the weather is warm will no doubt show a high population of varroa. The last thing we want to do is treat with chemicals.

    Any insights would be gratefully appreciated
    Stasia

  • Hi Stasia,
    I went to a beekeeping course back in 2009. It was a bit of an eye opener. I did,nt realise the control beekeepers had over the bees. I am a vegetarian, and when the subject of swarm control came up I was,nt impressed. Monitoring the Queen, and the many different ways to get rid of her if no good appalled me. The guy teaching the course did,nt seem to have any problem with killing Queen cells to stop swarming. Swarming is a natural thing for bees to do. I just leave them to it. If I can catch the swarm, I will ask around to see if anyone wants it. If not I just let them go on their merry way. Controlling swarms to me is a Guaranteed way to make sure there are less bees on the planet. Seems totally ridiculous!. I dont really follow any beekeepers. I went to a meeting of the local beekeeping club once. That was enough. I am not going to keep bees the same way as them, end of story. Had 6 swarms last year. Re-homed 3. They say the 1st swarm from a hive will be the original Queen, so I kept the 1st swarm, which meant I had 2 hives. I checked the hives roughly every 2 weeks. You only have to check more regularly if you are interested in Queen cells. If you have a Queen, workers and drones then leave them to it. They know what they are doing. It is only man with his oversized ego that thinks he knows better!. It is man and his greed and exploitation of bees that has led us to this sorry mess of bees dying out. The Lady on the video you posted on TWITTER does exactly the same as me. I treated the bees for varroa the first winter 2009/2010. I used Bayvarol strips which you hang over the frames in the hive. I did,nt want to use them, as I had never seen varroa on my bees. I was told treat for varroa whether you have them or not. RUBBISH!. If you havent got anything then why treat it?. This winter 2010/2011, I did,nt treat at all. The 2 hives are very healthy and there are lots of bees out today. I read one book about a university in Denmark or Norway, which did a study on bees with varroa. They left the bees to their own thing, did,nt treat them, and after 5 or 6 years the bees had the varroa under control themselves. I only keep a few hives. I am not into making big money from selling the honey. If I sell my honey, then I have to go and buy the crap honey they sell in TESCO. Keep it local. Irish honey from hives that are local to your area. Anyway, I think I may be waffling on a bit!. Watch the post again and you will probably pick up e few tips. Oxalic acid can be used against varroa, which is a more natural treatment. Also, too much checking of hives stresses the bees. Stress isnt good for man nor bees!.
    I hope this may have been a bit of use to you. I am only a beginner myself in the beekeeping World. Hopefully the way I am doing it works out. I dont see why it would,nt. I am afraid if conventional beekeeping is the only way to keep bees ( which I am pretty sure it isnt ), then I wont be keeping bees!. All this talk of breeding the perfect bee and exploiting them and then killing them, reminds me of some little fella with a moustache who led Germany to war between 1939/1945!!. Humans dont know best in the World of beekeeping!, thats my view and I am sticking to it!.
    By the way, I got 26 pounds of honey from 6 frames last year. That was plenty to keep Bridget and I going over the winter.
    If you have any more questions please ask. I may or may not be able to help, but there is no harm in asking. Are you on FACEBOOK?. I have some bee related photos on my page.
    Bye for now, and sorry for waffling,

    Andy.

  • Hi Andy
    Thanks so much for such a lengthy reply. I’m delighted to hear you are doing so well with the bees. We, too have no interest in keeping bees as our local beekeeping association members do. We’ve never used bayvoral and I’d have reservations about subjecting the bees to oxalic acid – I know it’s natural but they will die from an overdose, which means its not good for them and given that it will only kill any mites that are on the bees themselves which amounts to only 15% in a hive while the remaining 85% are in the brood cells. We used Apiguard the year before last but I think the temperature was too low when they were treated.
    It’s terrible to open a hive and see all the bees dead as happened this year but we left a super on a weak hive which meant they had too much space to manage the temperature, we really don’t know what happened to the other one but both hives were weak going into the winter, which is always a problem.
    I, too have read of bees learning to manage the varroa themselves and I’m tempted to take that route but I’m afraid we’ll loose the others. We had only 2 hives last year and got a further two nucs but we only took about 5 / 6 lbs of honey off the strong colonies.
    We stay in touch with the beekeeping association as there is some really good information available from visiting lecturers but we see ourselves as people who keep bees rather than beekeepers.
    It’s heartening to know that you’re doing so well without treating them, we might just continue to dust them with icing sugar and let them get on with it. We now have one very strong colony, which hasn’t had chemicals since 2009, it might be worth allowing them to manage varroa themselves. It’s either that or back to Apiguard.
    By the way I thought the point the lady in the video made about the foundation interesting although I’m not sure it’s true that bees emerge earlier if they’re allowed to draw their own foundation. It’s always difficult knowing who to believe in this virtual world we sometimes inhabit.
    Decisions, decisions.
    Thanks again Andy
    Stasia

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