Despite some really rubbish and lackadasical work on my part, the colony is still thriving. No idea how, really, but as Dr Ian Malcolm says in Jurassic Park, “Life, uh, finds a way.”
Following last year’s crisis of confidence, followed by the rediscovery of said confidence, the bees and I staggered on together. I totally failed to keep up with my weekly inspections, but fortunately the bees were happy with their queen and saw no need to swarm. I did remember to chuck a couple of supers on top and I eventually harvested some honey. I say eventually, because I decided that this year I really should use my own excluder instead of borrowing one (and then forgetting to give it back for about a year).
An excluder, incidentally, is a special board that you insert between the brood box and the supers and acts as a kind of osmotic device. After a few days, everyone’s back in the brood box and your supers are free of bees. If I remember this year, I’ll put up a picture of mine when the time comes to go through it all again. Anyway, the point is that, having decided to use my own excluder, I had to assemble it myself and that entailed sending off for things and doing stuff with wood. I am not good at this kind of thing. So this added a delay to the proceedings, and that meant in the end that (a) I was very late harvesting the bees and (b) I was also late commencing the autumn Varroa treatment.
I would love to tell you how late I was with all this, but my beekeeping log (a sketchy Excel spreadsheet) has question marks instead of dates for the key events in question, so I can’t. (Did I mention I was a really rubbish beekeeper?)
So I never got round to applying the Varroa treatment. I did check to see if I could do it in the spring, and it turned out that I could, except I completely forgot I was supposed to be doing this and it’s too late now. I did, however, feed the bees over winter (to avoid the tragic events of 2015/16), although I probably did this later than I should (late in December), not enough (just the once) and with the wrong thing (sugar solution rather than fondant). I did, however, put the mouseguard on this year, which is something, although it turns out now that no-one else I know seems to bother.
Today was the day of the first inspection, and the only conclusion I can draw is that the bees have basically decided that if you need to get something done, you might as well do it yourself. Basically, this is what I found:
- Food stores OK
- Plenty of brood, in a nice pattern
- No evidence of Varroa
- Queen plodding around and looking healthy
- No queen cells
I feel I’m essentially a spectator here. Still, nice work, ladies. Nice work.