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Our Apiary – Winter cleaning.

Friday 8th March

Although we have visited the apiary several times already this year to check on stores/fondant levels, today was our first group effort to start the cleaning and overhaul of hives and equipment.

Unfortunately, as has happened with a few beekeepers this winter, we had two unexplained colony losses. One with dead bees left on the floor and one without any bees in the hive. These were discovered in December so after clearing away the dead bees we sealed up the hives until we had time to deal with them. Both had a full super of honey on.

Beekeepers cleaning the hives before the new season.

We had a tub of dissolved soda crystals and 2 blowtorches. All the old wax was cut out of the frames, the frames taken to pieces and washed in the soda, rinsed in cold water and left to dry out. The blowtorches were used on the boxes, floors and roofs.

Having got there at 10.30 we were still working away at 2.00pm but then decided to call it a day. It was too cold and windy to be there much longer. However, we have now got 3 complete clean hives ready to be used.

As we are down to only one hive we will be buying in some bees from two of our experienced members. The next job is to do a stock check on our foundation and frames. Hopefully we can get a discount on this at the BBKA Spring Convention which one of our members is attending and offered to collect it for us.

Cleaning equipment is not the most enjoyable side of beekeeping but it is essential and it is quite rewarding to see the results from all the hard, messy graft put in. The bees will certainly appreciate it.

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