At this time of the new season the
activity within the colony starts to increase. The brood nest will start
to expand and the demand for Pollen and Water will dramatically increase.
Make sure that a clean supply of water is available close to the colony as a bee
drinking very cold water will get chilled and may not make it back to the hive
if a large distance has to be travelled. A shallow bucket or container
containing pebbles with the water just below the top of them works quite
well. A good sign will be many bees entering the hive carrying pollen, a
fair sign that the queen is active and increasing her laying. However, the
down side is that the food stores will start to diminish rapidly and a careful
watch should be kept to make sure colonies do not starve. If a colony
appears to be running low on food stores they should be fed with sugar syrup,
mixed to the proportions, 2lbs of white sugar to one pint of water. This
should be fed in a contact or rapid feeder, an Ashforth or Millar feeder is not
recommended at this time as the bees get chilled and never seem to take the
syrup very well.
It is quite normal to find a number of dead bees outside the hive entrance at
this time of year as the bees clean-up after the winter, but if the numbers seem
excessive, send a sample to your local Microscopist
or Regional Bee Inspector for testing.
During the mid part of April if the weather is warm a brief inspection of the
brood can be made but be very careful and do not remain for longer than is
Mouseguards can now be removed and entrances restricted with entrance blocks
with an approx. 4"- 5" x ¼" opening in an attempt to maintain
warmth, although you should watch for a build-up of moisture.
If your colonies appear to be O.K. they can generally be safely left alone until
early May when a more thorough examination will have to be undertaken.
On this occasion any old combs should be removed from the brood chamber and
replaced with new foundation and, or, frames where needed. Floors can be
cleaned or changed and Propolis removed from frames and hive parts.
Check combs for signs of any disease and check to see that the queen is present
If the brood is occupying four or five frames and the bees are spread to the
outside frames in the brood box, place a queen excluder on top followed by a
super - this first one preferably filled with drawn comb but if not available
foundation will suffice.
This information should give you some help until mid May when hopefully we will
update this information to cover Swarming and some control methods.
Into a large saucepan pour one pint of
water and bring this to the boil. When this is boiling steadily stir in
6lbs of white sugar, reduce the heat and stir continuously until all of the
sugar is dissolved. Now, add half a teaspoon of cream of tartar, stir in,
and now increase the heat, stirring all the while. Bring once again to the
boil, still stirring. Using a cooking thermometer, continue until the
temperature reaches 240°F / 116°C. Remove the pan from the heat and
place in a pan or sink of cold water and allow to cool to between 120°F and
140°F / 50°C and 65°C, continue to stir vigorously and as soon as the mixture
starts to stiffen pour quickly into container.
To feed to your bees, place the candy, still in the container, upside down over
the opening in the crownboard, covering with some baking foil and cloth to keep
it warm for as long as possible. Check regularly, giving more if needed.
This is also the time to repair any
damaged hive parts, make new additions to your equipment if required, and
generally prepare in readiness for next season. Also make sure that all
stored supers containing wax are protected from Wax Moth by the use of Certan.
Having done all of the above, now is
the time to make good use of the crop you have collected. You may be happy
just to sell your Honey, Beeswax, Propolis, Pollen etc. or you may wish to make
other products such as Polish, Hand Creams, Mead or Candles. Below are a
few recipes for some products:
Generally speaking, 3lb of Honey to 1
gallon of water is sufficient. To make the mixture, heat the water and
honey mixture slowly until all of the honey is dissolved, eventually bringing to
the boil. Now cool and when cool it should be filtered through muslin into
a fermentation vessel and a previously activated yeast culture. A good
general-purpose wine yeast or preferably a Maury yeast is best for the
fermentation of honey. To this now add some yeast nutrient and the juice
of 2 Lemons.
Fit an airlock and allow to ferment in a warm room for a month. Mead
usually throws a heavy scum which can be allowed to escape through the hole in
the airlock or removed regularly with a spoon. Racking should be done
regularly at monthly intervals. Do not bottle too early make sure
all fermentation has ceased. If you can, leave for several months after
bottling before drinking.
8 oz. Beeswax, ½ oz. Carnauba
wax, 6 fl ozs. Pure Turpentine ( adjust turpentine, more or less, for a
firmer or softer polish).
Mix the wax's together and melt in a double boiler. Also, bring the
turpentine to a similar temperature in the same way. Make sure all of the
Carnauba wax is melted, as it takes a higher temperature to melt than
Beeswax. Once melted, mix both the wax and the turpentine together in a
large pan. Allow to cool just slightly and then pour into polish
tins. To avoid cracking allow to cool slowly, do not rush.
All ingredients are HIGHLY FLAMMABLE, never
allow any contact with naked flames, never leave unattended,
always work in a well ventilated room.
3 ozs. Beeswax, 3 ozs.
distilled water, ¼ teaspoon borax, 10 ozs. liquid paraffin.
Melt the wax, heat the water, mix the borax and liquid paraffin and then
heat. When the wax is melted and all other ingredients are at a similar
temperature mix all together, using an electric mixer, not too fast, when the
mixture starts to thicken pour into pots. Only use the plastic pots for
this recipe, as the water can cause corrosion in the metal ones.
These tips are for a guide
only, there are many other versions of all of the above and many books are
available with many more refined processes and mixtures. We hope that
these will give you an introduction into the making of these products.