FHT Apiary Update

Last season finished with a very satisfactory honey harvest. Preparations for the coming season began in the autumn with treating all the hives for varroa mite. This is a small, crab like creature under 1mm across but to a bee it is enormous. It latches on to the bees and sucks out its juices and transmits various viruses. Unfortunately, it is now endemic in most countries and without treatment many colonies will die. Much as we would love to avoid treating the bees it is not a realistic option at present if we want bees. Some beekeepers are experimenting with selecting bees with natural resistance to varroa but this can lead to complete loss of colonies.

However, we were delighted to enter the winter with 10 colonies. Come spring we anxiously waited the first inspection, 8 of the colonies had survived, one of the losses was definitely due to varroa, the colony had been weak in the autumn. The over-wintering bees need to be strong enough to live for about seven months and have the energy to rear the new bees in the spring. During the summer, bees will only live about seven weeks, they work so hard.

We used the winter months to sort out our equipment, having acquired an old shed which we placed at the apiary and now use to store all our equipment on site, a real boon. Unfortunately, the winter storms twice removed the roof, but it now has a very sturdy new roof, made of second-hand toilet partition boards! Good recycling.

We are purchasing a new honey extractor, thanks to a generous donation from Robert Holden. The old extractor ceased to work towards the end of last harvest.

We have also received a generous gift of three hives, from Alain. They have been skilfully made by him, the roofs are of slate, amazing. No danger of these blowing off.

Our management over the summer months will concentrate on reducing swarming, where the queen leaves with about half of the bees. The result is the remaining colony produces little surplus honey. We also plan to rear some new queens.

We are always pleased to receive the help of volunteers who wish to learn about beekeeping. Protective suits and gloves will be provided. If you would like to join us, please let Jonathan Caddy know. Bees are the most wonderful creatures and essential to our wellbeing, so do consider coming to experience the work in the apiary. It is situated near the wind turbines.

John Willoner and Martin Harker

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Findhorn Hinterland Trust, Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) SC045806
228 Pineridge, Findhorn, Forres, Moray IV36 3TB