Seasonal Note No.4


SEASONAL NOTE No.4                 SUMMER (May / June / July)

Theme: Inspect ~Swarm Control ~Harvest

First super normally given to provide space for bees.
Add when bees in brood box cover all except two outer frames.
- In general add new supers on top

- Carry out regular inspections
- Look for Queen Cells
- Undertake Swarm Control method as required
- Undertake queen rearing

- The Varroa mite has now spread throughout North Dublin and we are in treatment stage.
- If bees are not treated we will have no bees.
- The approved policy of the F.I.B.K.A. is given below and it is the responsibility of each member to incorporate the policy into their beekeeping practices.


- An early crop can be taken off in mid-season.
Oil seed rape crop must be removed when capped.
- Clear bees and remove super(s)
- Ensure that colony is not short of stores. Immediate feeding may be necessary.
- Extract honey as soon as possible
- Only return wet supers in late evening; annoying neighbours / robbing?

- Fumigate brood combs with acetic acid
- Take precautions against wax moth


ART 1. FIBKA Guidelines on Varroa Destructor- Integrated Control Programme

The following Guidelines have been reviewed after their sixth year in operation. There has been good feedback from beekeepers who find them easy to use and effective in dealing with the varroa threat. The Executive Council has again reaffirmed their confidence in them at their meeting on October 13th 2007. Those Guidelines are subject to review on an annual basis.

1. Open Mesh Floor: The hive should be placed on-an OMF with top insulation in roof of the hive. OMF helps to lower mite population as well as assist in the early build up of the stock in spring. The insert should be used for monitoring the average daily mite drop throughout the year.

2. The average daily mite drop level determines whether treatment is required as follows:
November- January: treat if average daily mite drop (over 1 week) >2
Rest of the year: treat if average daily mite drop (over 1 week) >8

3. Control using approved treatments: There are only two chemical treatments licensed for use in Ireland. They are Bayvarol and Apiguard. Bayvarol has been a most efficient treatment for Varroa. However, there are signs of resistance to Bayvarol developing in the Island of Ireland. In order to retain Bayvarol within the armoury of treatments total reliance must no longer be made on it. This means that Apiguard must be used more frequently:
(a) Irish experience has shown that Apiguard can be very effective if the proper conditions are used:
A shallow eke of 20 mm should be placed above the brood box to accommodate the tray.
Two applications of one tray of 50g Apiguard gel per colony at a two week intervals.
Leave the second treatment tray in the colony until it is empty;
Maximum of two treatments per year.
Treat in early Autumn as the maximum ambient temperature should be above 15C.

(b) Average daily mite drop should be checked after treatment to find out if the treatment has been effective. If resistance is detected or suspected notify the Department of Agriculture and Food, Crop Production and Safety Division, Maynooth Business Campus, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Ph: (01)5053500.
Biotechnical control methods should be undertaken in late Spring as a follow up to Apiguard. Some commonly used biotechnical methods are as follows:
(From Managing Varroa DEFRA crown copy right.)

Drone brood removal:
Place two shallow combs in the brood chamber in spring and allow the bees to build natural drone comb beneath them. A good time to put these in the colony is when the queen first begins to lay up drone brood. Place the combs in the colony one at a time and alternate at 9 day intervals (a run of alternating pair of frames). Another option is to use an empty deep frame fitted with a starter strip of foundation to avoid possible misshapen comb.
When a drone comb is full of sealed drone brood (infested with varroa), cut it from the frame before it emerges and destroy it. Failure to do this will breed more mites. The frame can be re-used immediately.
Repeat the process several times in the season for maximum effectiveness.

Comb trapping:
Confine the queen to a worker Comb "A" using a purpose-made comb-cage (available commercially).
After 9 days confine her to a new, empty comb 'B' and leave comb 'A' in the brood chamber to become infested with mites. After a further 9 days remove comb 'A' (now sealed). Confine the queen to a new comb 'C', leaving comb 'B' in the brood chamber.
After 9 more days remove comb 'B'. Release the queen (or re-queen by introducing another queen) leaving comb 'C' in the brood chamber.
After .9 more days, remove comb.

Artificial swarm
Move parent colony to one side of the original site, at least 4 meters away
Place a second hive containing newly drawn combs and the queen (alone) on the original site to house the artificial swarm. Foragers will return to this hive creating the artificial swarm
After 9 days remove all but one queen cell from the parent colony The cell can be protected in a queen cell nursery cage which prevents the virgin queen from leaving the hive to mate, but allows worker bees access to care for her.
After 3 weeks all brood in the parent colony will have hatched. Transfer two bait combs of unsealed brood from the artificial swarm to the parent colony, and when they are capped, remove and destroy them. At this stage, cull the virgin and introduce a new queen to the parent colony.
The old queen in the swarm can later be removed and the two colonies reunited.

Dennis Ryan, FIBKA Bee Health Officer. Ist January 2008