The Adventures of a Novice Beekeper

Winter is Coming

Whoops. I meant to write a version of this post a couple of weeks back, but completely failed to do so, for no good reason other than I got tied up with other stuff. What makes things worse is that what I’m going to talk about here is stuff that I should have done earlier anyway. So imagine it’s a month ago and you’re in the last days of August.

Nice, isn’t it?

There are two things that need to be done. First of all, there’s the question of Varroa treatment. Varroa (or to be more precise, Varroa Destructor, which has to be the coolest name for a pest ever) is a parasitic mite that on the increase throughout the beekeeping world and has been implicated in colony collapse disorder, which is clearly something that one wants to avoid. I’m taking a two-pronged approach with this.

Prong number one is the addition of a varroa floor to my hive. We’ll cover this in more detail in another post, but basically it’s designed so that if a mite attaches itself to one of my bees and then falls off, it won’t be able to get back into the hive again. Prong number two is the use of a thymol-based gel called Apiguard.

Here’s what a 50g tray of Apiguard looks like:



and here it is in situ:



Basically it sits there on top of the frames, giving off fumes and upsetting the Varroa mites. (Yeah, poor mites!) In theory, I leave this there for a couple of weeks and then replace it with another one. However, given that it’s a very new colony, I probably won’t need to do this.

The second thing to do is feed the bees up a bit to make sure they’ve got sufficient feed stores to get them through the winter. For this purpose, I bought a 2.5kg bag of Ambrosia fondant and a feeder. Now I could probably have just laid out the fondant as it is, but I got a feeder anyway, so I’m sure as hell going to use it.

Here’s what the feeder looks like:



(I think that transparent thing at the back is only used for liquid feed, so we’ll put that to one side for now.) Here’s the feeder packed with fondant:



Nom nom nom, eh?

Now we have a problem here with adding this to the hive, because there isn’t room for the feeder in the space between the frames and the lid of the hive. So this is what we’re going to do. First of all, we remove the bit of mesh from one of the holes in the crown board (that’s the bit the goes on top of the frames – again this will make more sense when we’ve done the “this is what a hive consists of” post):



And then we add a “super”. This is one of the half-height frame boxes that I’m hoping will contain next year’s honey. However, this time round, we’re just using it to add the necessary height to the hive to hold the feeder:

P9090078And now we add the feeder. VoilĂ :



Put the lid on, and there’s a happy, healthy and well-fed hive.

Now of course, you’ll be wanting to know if (a) I’d managed to position the feeder correctly over the hole in the crown board and (b) if the bees had managed to find the food, right?

Here they are a week later:

Bees feeding


Dinner is served, ladies!



  1. trifficly interesting – thanks!

  2. admin

    September 25, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    You’re welcome!

  3. Another fascinating post. Ambrosia fondant? Sounds like some heavenly confection. Have read a lot about bees, but all of this is just such a fresh insight. I shall be hoping for a mild winter – not just for myself this year, but so that you will have more of interest to say about your surviving bees. Ta very much.

  4. So, wot’s happenin wit them dar bees?

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