Wednesday, October 7, 2009

2009 Swedish beekeeping season ends

With nothing more to do beekeeping wise here in my last couple of weeks before I depart for my winter in Spain, I can reflect on what has been achieved this year and what I want to achieve in forthcoming years.

I started the season finding out one of my two kenyan colonies had died out. It had a mouse take up residence. Well at least one of them survived without any treatments (I did one sugar dusting in 2008). A first year 50% survival rate is OK for my long term goals. The main decision I have made for Sweden is, because of my lifestyle choice of being absent for 6 months, and because I wish to keep bees as naturally as possible, I realized the best option would be to convert to warré hives. My barn, although providing great protection to the hives and peace of mind whilst I am absent, isn’t in good condition, so the warré beehouse took shape in my mind and quickly became a reality. The swarm I captured in my Svea bait hive and subsequently onto warré boxes has become the first occupant of the bee house. The kenyan still in the barn when I return in 2010 will be progressively walked over to the warré bee house (about 50m) and when sat in front of it, will be split into two in my mini kenyan/warré conversion hives. These will be put directly into the beehouse. I am looking forward to testing my lifting equipment in the bee house (it works perfectly in my head). I have left a full box of honey and more for them to overwinter on and with any luck it should still be there to harvest next year.

Thinking about my long term goals as well as short and medium term ones, I suppose the only long term goal is to have healthy surviving bees without treatments on an ongoing basis. I have already demonstrated in Spain that by utilizing swarms and splits, any non surviving colonies can be made up for quite easily. Therefore I am utterly convinced that a no treatment low intervention regime is not only possible but is easily achievable. I have had bad tempered bees and swarmy bees but my first consideration has been surviveabilty. I have put up with these negative factors and will continue to do so as the seasons progress to cull out the genetic lines that don’t have what it takes to survive. I know it is fairly easy to select out these bad traits and I will eventually do so. Now is not yet the time but when I feel I have a good surviving base, I want to start a queen rearing program with not only the survivability factors but my own selection criteria. These would be in this order, gentleness, non swarming and productiveness.

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