Although December, especially Christmas, is a busy time for us, January is not the month to sit back and do nothing. This and the following month is where most of the jobs that were noted during the year are done.
Making and wiring frames is the biggest task and the first job is to drill all the side bars. This is done on a pillar drill with a homemade jig. I usually take the equipment home for this as I can watch TV while drilling and also it’s warmer than the bee unit. This season we calculated that we would need about one thousand five hundred frames and after two days of drilling and eyeleting, they were finally done. You may wonder why we do not just buy wired foundation and save all the bother, but we worked it out that over the years we can make a significant saving by wiring the frames and embedding the foundation. On a small scale it would not be worth it. The savings come when the old comb is finally melted out, as the frame is then ready with the wire still in place, so it’s just a case of embedding new foundation which takes only seconds.
There are always boxes to replace as we are moving all our stock onto polystyrene. We are about half way through our colonies, so hopefully this year the majority will be transferred over. This should all be in place by the end of 2017, as that is the goal we set out for this project. The poly boxes are given two coats of masonry paint as added protection against the elements and so far has proved to have done the job well. Before stacking them away, they are given a full compliment of new frames, but these will not have the foundation embedded until just before they are needed.
We obtained a couple of new apiaries over the last few months and these have now got the stands in place ready for the hives. As they are our furthest apiaries, the hives that we are in the process of moving are from some of our more local sites. The local ones are being re-stocked with the over wintered nucs as it is much easier to move equipment about locally, and besides, if we forget anything it is not so far to travel. Travel costs are one of our biggest drain on resources so it make sense to do it this way.
January has also been the time for our varroa control by sublimation of oxalic acid (api-bioxal). We have seen great results from this treatment over the past few years and so we will continue to treat this way. A second sublimation is done ten days later.
I know it seems a way off but next month will see our queen rearing moved to a new site. Having had a few issues with the old site, with a couple of mating nucs stolen and tampered with, it was time to move. The new site is more sheltered and security is better. We shall see if we get similar results from this new site.