We went skiing, hurray!

I can not remember going skiing this early in the season for a long time. Vratna has officialy opened its gates to skiiers and snowboarders alike as well as all the other snow enthusiast. We are one of them and were there at the opening, it was a lovely feeling and somehow squashed the in between time from March to December and suddendly here we are again. The slope was very nice at the very top but the lower section was crumbly, Mike said it was like boarding on ruff sea, another friend said it was more like skiing on nut shells. But we were all just happy and content at least I have not seen anyone with an injury which is a main thing. It is warmer today, got home about lunch time and it actually rained a bit but froze instantly not that brilliant but that has to be as well. We both felt great and had great big smiles on our faces today, Mike looked very happy, he is lovely and a pleasure to be with. I am very lucky to have him really.

After this weekend we are back to -10 or so they seem to think  which would be much better, fingers crossed.

I sheared the sheep yesterday, you know we listened to the farmers program on BBC 4 yesterday and they were talking about shearing the fleeces of sheep or not as the case may be, but the chap said it takes 8 to 10 year to learn how to handle the sheep that you are shearing, me with our two ewes I am guessing it will be at least double the time, yesterday I really struggled trying to manouvre the older ewe, trying to pull her was a reasonable challenge, we settled for a second best unfortunately but I do try and make it as comfortable as I possibly can for them, they do let you know when they are not comfortable anyway and you don’t get very far with the shearing so a comfortable sheep is a  happy sheep a happy sheep is a calm sheep and allows you to shear it. It works both ways. I don’t go as close to their skin this time of the year either I mainly try and shorten their fleece and cut closer on their tummy and round their teats so when they have lambs they don’t have to search for them or suck on the dirty woolI don’t like to do it close to them lambing. They look great. Well I think so.

Bees seems to be pretty well settled, I try and keep an eye on them make sure they have air going in, are able to fly out if they want to and with the top viewer open they can. I try not to go around them too much, disturb them. Fingers crossed and toes crossed and everything else crossed I will have a colony by the end of this winter season. I really realy hope so. But if I don’t there is nothing I can do about it. I will fight on, clean up and start again.

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What an absolutely amazing day it has been, …

woke up to – 11,7 degrees clear sky and tranquility this morning. What a joy, went out my usual time this time the dog in question led on in front as we already have a path, the air was so clear and it was really quiet outside, sun was coming out behind the mountain, created amazing artwork of lines and colour. Later on I went alpine trekking, pictures to follow, I had a really good time, thoroughly enjoyed it, on my way back I caught up with Mike who was snowboarding above the house so I took some pictures of the action man.

20161204-002 20161204-009 20161204-067 20161204-034  feel very lucky.

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Lots of snow ****

On Thursday and Friday last week the snow just kept coming, it was amazing, the snowflakes were ranging from very small and lumpy to huge fluffy monsters, the wind was pretty mean as well so quite a lot of drifts were created. Went out and the first morning I was pushing snow like a bulldozer as the dog I walk was not willing to go in front of me I had snow up to my knees. The next morning I took the snowshoes it was much easier. Today was a much calmer day little bit of snow, cloud, sunshine and we took the opportunity to go above the house a do a bit of snowboarding.

The first bit of snowboarding on the 3d of December 2016, it was amazing. I don’t remember this much snow this early in the year for a long time. Going back to the snowboarding it was awesome. Really enjoyed it and the funny things was that when we started walking up the hill it felt like just yesterday when we did if before, how time flies.

Bees, I am down to 1 hive, about a month ago we had +14 degrees so I took the roof of, as I could not hear any sound from the hive, took the roof of and could not see any bees between the frames, once I started to take it apart ie pull out the frames there was uncapped syrup, a few bees with their faces in, some on the floor dead and that is it. I also decided to leave that hive there I just switched it with the one with the bees as now the empty hive is on the North. I also closed the entrance and open the eye hole in the middle of the super as like now the snow is covering the entrance but not the eye hole so I don’t have to go near it and keep the snow of it. although they have a mesh floor so there is air coming from there.

Sheep are in, the rams did really well we had a 30kg and a 20kg carcass. Girls are in the shed and seems to have settled in rather well, still due to be sheared but there is not much hurry with that.

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3d of October and 2 hives

Checked the hives on Saturday, we had a nice sunny day, a litte bit of wind and a two days before the weather was due to change. Well they were right it has changed, Today the 3d of Oct. it is raining and colder, suppose to be like this and colder for the rest of the week.

Bees, I have two hives, C and E, C used to be the grumpy hive, well actually if I am looking at it longer than say 5 -10 min they still make a loud buzz, so I just finish doing what I am doing and close them up, C has about 4 frames of bees, 5 frames of stores, I have got a feeder on them still but they are very slow taking it, I decided to leave it on there during this cold spell, if they have not taken it by next week, should be fairer weather, I will take it off. I have seen little sections of cells, just layed eggs and capped cells, with bee coming out. I saw two drones, did not see the Queen or any Queen cells. Hive E had two supers, once I opened it, started to look at it they seem to be filling up the top super with stores, I did not go through all of it, but they seem to be occupying the South side of the hive more, the bottom super had a few bees in, no stores or cells so I took it off, they don’t need the extra space. They are taking in the food really quickly, but that they have done from the very beginning.

I have been reading about keeping bees without chemicals, and or many interventions by me, human. I read these amazing “stories” and I would love to achieve, do what people have managed to achieve, withouth chemicals, healthy bees, happy bees withouth having to feed or treat them. Well I keep bees without chemicals I only treat with bee vital which chemicaly free, this is the first year I am feeding with inverted sugar but even that is suppose to be better than sugar itself, not better than honey mind you but that is something I don’t have.

I keep asking myself what am I doing wrong, I keep wondering what I am going to do next year, how to get more bees, I have spend half a day looking at other bee keepers who keep bees without treating them, there seem to be a few but they either have no contact or they are not interested in selling bee nucs, colonies. It seems that beekeepers over here treat bees, it is a fact. I think that becasue I don’t treat, but I so far always got bees from people who do I loose them the second year on. This is not passing the buck either I am sure I make mistakes, but as yet I am not sure what they are.

I was going to make splits from these two hives next year in the spring, I am relactunt, it all depends how they overwinter, if they do well, I will try to make one split, I am reading about baiting a hive for a swarm, and I am considering getting a colony from the people who sold me the inverted sugar, although I know he treats his bees. As I think I made them survive two years one winter, they are getting better without too much treatment it would be a shame to loose that line. On the other side I don’t want to split them and make them weaker so that will depend how strong they are next spring.

I worked hard not disturbing them too much this year, I do go and watch them, lean on the hive and observe – I do get told of sometimes, sometimes they just fly by me, I love watching them, I am working on bringing more plants that are good for them, I have got new bulbs that I will plant this month, I have created 3 new beds that I am going to be planting up. I open them up when I believe I should with a goal in mind, if I think and feel my intrusion is not welcomed I close them up again. I have one guy, Rudo, who gave me this last lot of bees, who is absolutely briliant as and when I need anything I just ring him and he gives me all the knowledge about the matter, which is great, but it is not hands on, he keeps his bees about and hour and half away, otherwise I would be there every day, or nearly. He also treats his bees, old school. His bees have been very nice, placid, and he does not over feed, although he does take quiet o lot of their stores aways at the end of the year. Mind you, even he did not take any this year and had to feed, it seems the bees got tricked by the weather, nobody from this region, South-East of Slovakia got honey and had to feed from what I heard. I was not just me. Fingers crossed it is all going to go well now without hickups and next year awaits great karma.

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2 hives left

Went walking on Thursday, were home the rest of the day, bees flying, Friday we went cycling in the morning, later stayed at home bees flying Hive A was behaving a bit strangely, there were bees trying to get into the other two hives and were met with force in front and chased off, Hive A just looked as they had bees behind the door waiting for introders to come in lack of activity should have really been enough, Saturday the 24.9 we were home, came to the hive first thing in the morning, looked at the floor which had a number of bees, dead bees on the floor, knocked on it, no noise. Checked the other hives they were buzzying. Waited for the weather to get a bit warmer just in case, opened it and no noise because there were no bees in the hive, it was totally empty, except for stores some of which were capped, second super had 2 frames of capped brood, some ready to come out, and 2 capped Queen cells. Spoke to a friend who said it is some virus, has happened to some of his friends, to clean the hive burn the comb if I don’t want to clear it, desinfect it and move on.

So that was my biggest colony, I have 2 hives left one pretty strong one, one slightly weaker one.

Pretty annoyed with myself. Not sure whether this was CCD Colony Colaps Disorder. or the bees Absconding, but this is what happened the year before last when my two hives got robbed and the last absconded, so why, what am I to learn from that?

The two hives that are left stil have the feeders from 17th of Sept. E had 12 kg C 5kg, they are taking the last syrup really slowly, and I am planning to give them any more after that, bees are coming back with dark orange and soft yellow pollen, the dark orange will be from the Crocuses they look amazing, two fields above the hives are full with them. They have reduces entrances and C has a little bit of moss stuck in the entrance as well to alow 1-2 bees to go through, Hive E had that as well – they took it of, C left it and so am I.


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Feeding and fighting

I have 3 hives now, my little hive fought on and on, I made a mistake of putting syrup onto the frame and then opening it to give them some water with this I watched the Queen come to the top and fly away, so I am guessing, they have been planing it, as they did not have stores, what they had, was being pulled away, by robbers I guess, and they could not been feeding her to be able to fly. A day later after this I saw a cluster of bees by one of the hives, once I “raked” it I saw the Queen in the middle so I put her and the few bees surrounding her into a Nuc, left them over night, took the Nuc and stuck it away from the rest into the garden, this is their second day there is a few bees flying in and out, I am going to have a look on Friday, they are forecasting rain on Saturday so  I thought if they are in there and working I will help them out a little. Most people would think this as a waste of time, I am reluctant to just let them die.

The rest of the hives have been treated with Hive Clean for the las time on the 12th of September, and the Apivital feed seems to be going down Hive E has had 10kg, Hive C 5 kg, Hive A has 8 kg.I give them 2 kg and they usually take it in two days, depending on the night temperature.

Want to have a look at them before the weather changes just to make sure things are ok, I believe I had some robber bees trying to get in, I have to reduced entrances now and the colonies are relatively strong and not allowing anyone to go past which is a really good sighn as I always seemed to have suffered with robbing.  The raspberry patch next to the hives seems to be the favourite place over the last week or so for the bees, they are really enjoying the autumnal raspberries. We shall enjoy the fruits thanks to them.

I will keep you posted on the progress.

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Feeding Bees,

I gave the bees the last of the Apifonda paste that I purchased earlier this year. Most of the bees have taken it, except for my C hive which still has a couple of little lumps of it.

I have also treated them with Bee Vital Hive Clean for the second time, I have one more treatment to do, they should be pretty much Varroa free after that.

I am also going to feed them with what they call inverted sirup, sirup specially made for bees, I have found a seller reasonably close to us, so we went there and bought 50l of this sirup made by Apivital. This is the first time that I am going to use inverted sirup so we shall see, but when I used the paste I did not have any problems with robbing, fingers crossed it is the same with this.

The couple from whom I bought the Apivital, keep bees as well, they have 200 hives, when I asked him how his bees are doing this year, he told me that he is not going to get any honey from them this year,he had to buy in honey for the shop, I have bought a jar of honey from them as well. So this year has not been that great for them, it looked promissing prior to the middle of July and then things changed dramatically.

For now I have one weak hive, I am going to feed them with Apivital slowly and I still have some Bee Strong from Bee Vital which I am going to give to them, I need to boost them up, the rest will get Apivital about 15kg each. The only hive with a little bit of honey is Hive A, they are doing to best, but I am not going to take anything from them. I want them to get strong.

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Reducing the hives

Checked the hives last week,  the only hive with 3 supers is hive A, they are actually looking really good.

Hive C, my stropy hive is down to 2 now, I thought they would expand but upon checking it out, I have decided they have enough room in the two supers without having to heat up the 3d one.

Hive B has two supers, seems to have settled in.

Hive E and D are back to one super and mostly occupying the middle of it.

Keeping an eye on them all but they all seems to have sorted themselves out again, the Queens are laying but not a lot, the bees are busy getting out, as and when they can, the last two days have not bee that great for them but as soon as it stops raining they go out again. It is suppose to be good weather now for a few days.

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Feeding = Robbing

I am starting to think that this is going to be the case every time I feed my bees. Firstly once I started feeding I reduced the entrances, on the small hives I actually put in my entrance reducers with small entrance for 1 or 2 bees, just in case there is interest by other bees,insects. At the beginning it seemed to go unnoticed and then things changed. I firstly gave food to just two hives, the smallest. Then I did an inspection and realized that out of the 6 hives I only had one hive that had some stores in and they were forecasting really bad weather so I gave them about 500g of Apifonda each, after the robbing episode, I gave them a couple of days, closed of the hive that had the most problems, my newly made up hive and added 200g of Apifonda, left them closed for 3 days, on day 3 they were rather loud, it was sunny, they were no bees around this hive. I opened it up, few bees came out, some bees took away dead bees, for the rest of the day they were reasonably calm, the next day I fear there was an intereset by other bees, but this time I just left it, they used up the food I gave them, they still have a capped Queen cell, and they seemed much calmer. I am hoping to open it up either this week or next and have a quick look and take of the feeder, as they are building underneath it and I don’t really want them to so it will be better if it does not stay there very long. I have also given 5 hives Bee Vital Hive Clean a 15ml dose for Varroa as I have noticed a few Varroa mites here and there.

We have had a few weeks with unsettled weather, but who has not?, there are wild flowers in the fields that got cut, plus wild clover, Priganum. In our garden we have Echinacea, Monarda, Origanum wild and yellow, Rudbeckia, Campanula, Hyssop blue and pink, Lavender, .. but I supposed there still is not that much, or even if there is, it has been too wet, or too dry. I don’t know, sometimes I think I am fighting a loosing battle. Or I am trying to hard. ? I don’t know whether this is possible but I don’t want to teach the bees to be “lazy” and bring them food if and when they run out of stores. I need to learn to ignore them. The last time I fed them and closed them I told myself that I am away for 3 days, and even though I went and looked at them I worked hard not to do anything. That is what I will do learn to ignore them from time to time, I like to think I am much better than what I used to be and don’t constatnly open them up or prod them about. I do like to watch and Mike build a nice seating area under a tree so you can see the bees hives with entrance, their comings and goings, I like to sit there and watch. First picture is from Hive F before the robbing last week, the next picture is from the Apiary with the seat.

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Fed two hives,

Decided that I am going to feed my two smallest hives,

Hive B and F got a handfull of Apifonda last night, around 10pm, it was relatively warm about 14 degrees, it was drizzling. I opened the hive, the bees were calm, I put the food near them, as close as I could and put a paste feeder up side down on the food and then put the plastic cover on top so they could not go through the circle in the middle. they went straight to it. I decided to do it mainly as we have had a week of cold and rainy weather there is not that much stuff in the country side that is flowering right now and the tow hives are small and weak as they had no stores when I inspected them on the 15th. We have levander, echinacea, ligularia, digitalis, origanum, monarda, hyssop, campanula flowering right now but due to the weahter they really did not go mad, there was a few going out during the drizzling periods but they were few and far between.

Hoping to check on the bees next week, the weather is suppose to even out and get nicer and warmer again.

I had to put entrance reducers on both the hives plus the mesh in front the entrance as Hive F was strangly buzy with bees. Soon after the mesh was put in place it all calmed down.

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