Bees, Frames and Hive, Italian Alps, Oct 2011

So on a balmy Indian summer October day I checked the condition of my bee hive and the occupants. Its my first and only hive which I took ownership and responsibility for at the end of August.

A new colony from early summer who spent the summer months drawing out the wax and growing in numbers. The hive has been only a brood box as they have not needed to expand at all and therefore there has not been surplus honey for us to steal away from them This is expected in the first year.

Now that autumn should be well underway and winter around the corner, I wanted to make sure that they were treated for varroa and nosema and fed. I took a video of the inspection and you can plainly see that the two end frames are drawn out but with very little in the way of stores. Being a novice I was not that confident that I new what I was looking for. However I spotted the queen, you can see her quite clearly on two of the frames, she has a white dot painted on her for ease of recognition and to show the year she took the thrown (2011).

The treatment of varroa seems to have been successful since the bottom board showed about 300 mites after the first week and a little more the second and the third less. Each treatment I preceded by placing a new white piece of paper on the board smeared with vaseline.

I have given them about 6 kilo of sugar syrup so far and this was fed to them over a four week period, there is about a liter left which they seem to be avoiding. About 50 bees have drowned over that same period.

Wasps are very interested in the hive and I have seen one enter the main entrance and I didn't see it leave. I thought they were being robbed once by other bees which panicked me for a while. I realized that I probably caused the commotion as it was when I made the first ApiLife Var treatment.

Any comments or thoughts on what I should do (or not do) with regard to the apparent lack of stores is welcome! The hive is in a good place for the hot summer days since it also offers some shade but I realize now that there will be no sun falling on it during the cold winter months. At 650m altitude the temperature has dropped to -16C in previous years. Although most of October has so far stayed between 15C and 25C, only dropping to 11 once at night.

For any other beginners to beekeeping, I would highly recommend this book, The Complete Gudie to Beekeeping by Jeremy Evans. I have it and found it very instructive and easy to follow.
This comprehensive guide on how to do beekeeping is the perfect advisory manual whether you are starting from scratch or are an experienced beekeeper.
Taken from the forward:
First and foremost a practical guide to the first three years of beekeeping. In the first year it tells you how to start and what you need to buy, how you cope with the bees, and how to prepare them for the winter. In the second year it tells you how to spring clean etc and the third year it looks at swarms in detail and so on…
A lovely hardback with loose cover, inside the book is filled with plates, illustrations and instructive diagrams. Written by Jeremy Evans in collaboration with Sheila Berrett this is very good value and is full of useful information.

If you need new National hives or just buying your own, you should consider this as it less than half price, a bargain if you ask me. All advice suggests, you should start with two not one.


  1. I think they will be OK are you using a heavy syrup 2kg to 1lt (Get rid of the old syrup as it may have started to ferment), if it gets too much cooler they wont be able to process any more syrup.I would be tempted to get a dummy board to reduce the box size down by a frame or 2 and have some fondant (make your own) or buy Ambrosia Fondant I would put it on as a precaution at the end of Oct. Good luck

  2. Thanks for your advice. I went away for two weeks after putting in new syrup. On my return I found that they had not touched that either, so I placed some fondant directly above the frames. That was a week ago. I also placed the mouse guard on.
    Today I saw that they had hardly touched the fondant and that they have reduced in numbers to almost none. Lots of dead bees on the floor and blocking up the entrance. We've had a few nights around 4-5 degrees, I think one more will kill off the rest as I do not think there are sufficient numbers to keep warm. Today is sunny but I don't think they are out flying.
    Sad day indeed.


Post a comment

Popular Posts