Hiveworld.ca’s hands-on Meet the Beekeeper evenings kicked off April 3 southeast of Sherwood Park with a lively mix of questions, teaching and demonstrations.
Questions like: I got 1,000 pounds of honey last year from four hives, then all my bees died! The likely problem was mass attack by wasps, and instructor Barry Haighton suggested it is vital to put on entrance reducers and even a mouse guard to make it easier for the bees to fend off the invaders. Prolonged attack causes forager bees to leave, and the remaining brood-minders quickly lose heart and give up the fight.
Instructional time covered several topics, from where and why the bees occupy various parts of the hives throughout the season (and where they should be now), why some bees are dark black now (they are winter’s older foragers) and others are lighter fawn colour (they are the new spring bees), summer dwindling caused by premature egg-laying and worker-bee exhaustion, and weather conditions that can promote or inhibit spring success.
Participants ranged from experienced beekeepers to those interested in starting their first hive, and all enjoyed getting up close as Barry showed how to do some initial spring hive checks in the outdoor classroom area. Without disturbing the main body of the hive, he removed the top of a hive to show fibreglass insulation and a pail feeder, answering questions about various forms of insulation and the importance of keeping the hive interior dry at all times. The bees need supplementary syrup and then pollen patties right through to late June.
When the top of another hive was removed, the bees were concentrated on one side of the hive, rather than in the centre where they should be. There were signs of dysentery, which is not fatal to the colony, but it can be another sign of trouble.
Meet The Beekeeper nights are free. The next one is April 17, 6:30-8 p.m. Participants should register online, and at the same time sign the online waiver if they are attending for the first time. Bring your own bee suit and gloves, or pick up whatever you need at hiveworld.ca or at our retail store, 5418 - 136 Avenue, Edmonton.
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What should you do if your bees have died? First thing you should do is look at your hive and see if you can detect any moisture, disease or anything else that may have caused your colonies demise. Do your best to take any samples you need, photos and get a second opinion from a fellow beekeeper, mentor or us!