BBKA Learning Online

BBKA News Archive Magazines

BBKA Forum

Welcome to the 'Beekeepers' area which contains restricted content specifically for our beekeeping community. 
Here you will find a wide range of resources and information to support existing BBKA members and Associations.
Select from the additional menu bar above the banner image.

If you aren't already a BBKA member then you can explore your options to 'Become a Member'

October 2023 – Getting Winter Ready

Well, what a busy year it has been! It seems a while since we last reported in, and I do believe we missed reporting our successes with our breeding programme.  Well now to make up for that!

In our last blog we reported that we had been preparing and building our Apideas, ready for the breeding season. Well, our breeder queen did not disappoint us! Queen Beeyonce’ produced almost a full cupkit cassette of eggs overnight! Needless to say, the children were super pleased.  We had already prepared our raiser colony and had rendered them queenless in readiness to receive the donor larvae. We made up a small nuc with the queen so she wasn’t homeless.

Queen Beeyoncé seen bottom left

We used the BIBBA queen rearing timetable record card which we found very useful, so thank you BIBBA! Time was of the essence and we had to be on our toes to make sure that the young larvae were placed in the donor colony at the right time and that the donor colony was ready to receive them in order to have a successful batch of queens. Having done all this to the best of our ability, we were very pleased when we checked the cell raising bars to find that most of the cells had been extended and the young larvae were being tended to, full of royal jelly.

We gave the donor colony a total of 20 one day old larvae and from those we had a total of 9 successfully sealed queen cells. We had a couple of very strange looking cells which didn’t amount to anything but we were very happy with 9 out of 20.

Now to turn our attention to the Apideas! In the last term the children had put together the new Apideas and so all we had to do was stock them with bees and get them ready for adding the queen cells.  We knew we weren’t out of the woods yet and there was still time for some of those 9 queens to fail, so we were not getting our hopes up just yet.

Once our Apideas were ready the timing was critical. The queen cells were added and the Apideas were placed at the mating site,and it was fingers and toes crossed for successful mating.

The green apidea (front right) shows the bees greeting their returning queen

We were very fortunate to actually see one of the queens returning from her mating flight, which was super exciting!!

Anyway, we had a total of 6 successfully mated queens and from these we made up some nuclei to sell and some of the others were used to re-queen our own colonies.

What a year!! Now to get ready for doing it all again next year.

Our attention has now turned to getting our colonies ready for winter. We had a very good spring honey crop this year but our summer crop wasn’t as good as previous years so we have left all the summer honey on our colonies. Each colony has a full super of stores for winter and we will of course be topping them up with some fondant to ensure they get through winter ok. Sadly, we lost a colony to wasps this year. The wasps have been relentless and we have noticed more this year than ever. We are of course being super vigilant for Asian Hornets and have been learning all about how to recognise them and what to do if we spot one.

This year we decided to use Formic Pro as our autumn/winter treatment. What a smell it has! It did the job though and the mite drop wasn’t too bad this year.

Here you can see one of our pupils taking the Formic Pro pads off

Our colonies are all strapped, treated and mouseguards on, although one of our colonies has decided to make their own mouseguard!

Clever bees!!

Our Autumn 1 term ended with our Harvest Festival, where we had a celebration assembly and afterwards, we had a produce market. We had a stall selling fruit and vegetables, jams and pickles, and honey, cakes and crumbles. We managed to raise over £500.

All our honey, cut comb and section honey sold out so, come on bees …. Do your stuff!

Till next time, HAPPY BEEKEEPING from the Ashbrow Beekies!