Friday, September 11, 2009

Lifting Strop & Minimum IPM

I finally got around to making up my warré lifting strop, a 4 arm string strop which attaches to the bottom warré box where I have screwed 4 eye bolts in each corner. I used a SS boating shackle for the the lifting eye to attach to my hand winch and just tied on 4 one meter lengths of polypropylene string with 'S' hooks tied to the ends. This is the last part of the system I have devised so hopefully next Spring when I will be putting new boxes underneath I will have everything to hand. Seems like a long time to wait until then but hey ho we will have the Spanish season in between! 

At last we are having some good dry and even sunny weather, I was worried I may have to feed my bees in the kenyan again what with the last few weeks of rain. It is amazing how quickly a colony can deplete itself of stores at this time of year with lots of mouths to feed and active bees! As we are forecast good weather now for awhile, I will hold off the feeding because there is plenty of forage still. Clover, heather, golden rod & the last of the fireweed.

Beekeeping in two countries with two different season means I am actively beekeeping all year round! Doing so has quickly focused my mind on my thoughts concerning varroa and other bee problems. The main conclusion I have come to is that left to themselves, in a good enough environment, the less I do the better off the bees will be. Last year I was all for small cell, open mesh floors, drone culling and sugar dusting as a natural integrated pest management system. I have now decided to adopt the 'Live and let Die' policy. Basically for two reasons:-

First I have always felt that beekeepers interfere too much in the lives of the bees and that anything we do in the end is counter productive. The Live and let Die thing really struck a chord with me and I think that perhaps bees have it within themselves to overcome any and all problems they may face if they are just left to get on with it. Look at surviving feral colonies for example. I know that is not very scientific and perhaps people may think that this is a case of hope rather than reality but I do believe it. There are now many reports of bees being kept untreated for several years in various parts of the world. I know I am going to have losses and I am prepared for them but with swarms and splits these can be easily made up for.

The second reason is more mundane and is because of my chosen lifestyle of spending half my time in different parts of Europe. Leaving bees for 6 months at a time in both Spain and Sweden necessitates a different approach. I have to leave a full set of top bars allowing the bees to expand and contract their brood nest as they require without me constricting them with divider boards. My 35mm top bars throughout the hive will be used both for brood and honey storage so allowing them sufficient space means they can move honey stores accordingly.

Will it all work out in the long run? I hope so and so far I am having some success, keeping bees without treatments, not opening the hives but a few times in the year, yet getting some honey and wax. As long as I have bees without buying in new stock and get some kind of return, I think I can call it a success!

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