Monday, 23 January 2012

Talking to the local Beekeepers Association

Before the talk I felt like I was going into the lion's den! I had no need to worry, though. The talk went well and although there were quite a few challenging questions there was a great deal of interest shown by the group.

I used the presentation that I have used before as a base to talk around and took along an empty hive to demonstrate. Although many of the questions were quite probing, all were presented in a friendly way. The hive attracted a great deal of interest and questions. Possibilities for manipulations were discussed extensively and some found it hard to believe that bees would work along a horizontal hive, as they have been told so many times that bees only go upwards to find honey!

The biggest compliment of the afternoon was to be invited to return next year to talk again and give an up-date on progress throughout the year!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Bottom Board Details

I've had a request for more details of the bottom board that I use and how I count Varroa on it.
The board is just a plank with 8mm quadrant section beading attached around the edges, with the vertical side on the outside.

Bottom Board with Edge Beading

Length and width of the board are the same as the OUTSIDE edge of the hive bottom. A sheet of paper (graph paper makes counting varroa easier) can be cut to fit inside the lip of the board. I also wet the paper with olive oil, which holds it in position and sticks fallen varroa to it to prevent them from re-entering the hive. I've also just spread the oil onto the bottom board without paper, it tends to soak into the wood though.

To hold the bottom board in place I use a very simple, cheap method - 4 screws and 2 lengths of copper wire!
Entrance Side of Hive

Window Side of Hive

Screws with a plain (un-threaded) shank under the head are best to avoid damage to the wire. I wrap the wire 3 or 4 turns around the screw on the entrance side of the hive, and that never gets disturbed. On the window side, one turn of the wire is enough to hold the bottom board in position. Leaving the wire slack will lower the bottom board for ventilation, pulling it tight before twisting around the screw will close the bottom of the hive for cold / windy conditions.

I've heard of hinged bottom boards, but my fear is that hive rubbish and dead varroa will fall off before being checked.

I've found that the board can be held by pushing it gently with one hand against the hive bottom while releasing or attaching the wires, then both hands can hold it level for removing without dropping anything off of it.

Hope that is clear and helps. Please feel free to adapt t
his idea in any way you see fit.