Last Friday I was visited by the local Government Bee Inspector. I had met him the previous weekend at a local beekeeping gathering where we saw him covering bees in icing sugar to reduce varroa. After the demonstration he said he wanted to visit me and we arranged a time.
I was not really sure what to expect, so having given him a cup of tea we drove to the apiary.
He was amuzed by my names for the hives. Apparently most beekeepers call their hives simple things like one, two, three etc. He thought it would give a few people a laugh “back at the office”. His boss had heard of this site when he was browsing the internet at Christmas.
We worked through the hives systematically. He inspected each one for small hive beetle because we are near some fruit distribution plant. He got very excited at one stage and said he saw lots fall out of one of the supers – but as it turned out he was pulling my leg (to use an old expression my father used to use).
Of the five hives remaining, two have swarmed – with Faith having thrown at least one or two extra casts. I am still learning about effective swarm control – but this was not a beekeeping lesson. He said he had a method, but could not explain it whilst inspecting the hives. It seems as though many old beekeepers have good methods of swarm control – but that it is very difficult to both extract the information from them, learn it and then reproduce the method. Particularly as there are so many methods and each beekeeper has his or her own way of doing things. “Nowt so strange as beekeepers”, I said. The Government Bee Inspector thought a bit and agreed with me.
Varroa conrol on Joy and Harmony was the main issue – and he left me with some useful material on this never-ending puzzle on how to keep the varroa down.
So it is effective control of varroa and swarming that are the two big challenges I would like to master next. Any different approaches welcome.