It’s been a while since my last post about bees, and wasps, but that’s because things have been going well. My last post on the subject, Wasps, Bees, and doing nothing, told about the problems that I was having. That particular hive was not coping well, and so I opened it up, to find a tiny number of bees, with a queen, but no brood, and only on frame that had been filled with comb. Again, it was a hive that had somehow failed to build up that was struggling.
Since then I have stepped up my wasp trapping, and have been able to significantly reduce the pressure on the hives. One breakthrough was to use beer and jam in my traps. I tried it after running out of my old, not very good batch of homemade wine. Within a day, it was obvious that the beer was drawing more wasps into the traps. Luckily we have a large stock of beer, left over from last year’s big party. i don’t drink the stuff, and so finding a use for it has been a bonus. The second part of the success has been to hang more of the traps in tree branches. The wasps seem to find the higher traps more quickly than traps placed on the ground. I have about fifty traps out, and I refresh a proportion of them every couple of days. I use a mix of about one can of beer to half a jar of jam, which seems to work. I have not tried using just beer, although it might work just as well.
Forage has been a bit short, but we now have some Ivy starting to flower, which should ease the pressure. I still have some Musk Mallow (Malva moschata) flowering, which is three months of bee forage. It has been the real winner for me this year. Even though most of the plants are covered in seed capsules, or ‘cheeses’, there are still some flowers, and the bees are still working them. Hopefully they will continue to spread. My Borage has flowered for a long time too, but there hasn’t been enough of it to make a serious contribution. I’m going to remove some of the grass from the Forest Garden, in order to get some more planted for next year. I have small amounts of Spotted bee balm (Monarda punctata), planted, and hope that it will spread, but it has yet to flower. None of my late flowering trees are mature enough to flower yet. I had hoped to get some flowers on the Chinese mint bushes (Elsholtzia stauntonii), but nothing yet. I have a few more to plant out, and am looking forward to seeing them flower.
My next job is to get some essential oils into the hives, to treat for varroa. I was planning to use a feed of sugar syrup, but haven’t got enough empty boxes to go on top of all of the hives, so I may use a feeding station instead. I will lose some of the feed to wasps, and other bees, but it will save lots of time, so may be worth it.
All of the best, and hoping that your bees are doing well