Pressure washing plastic combs

How do you clean plastic combs and reuse them? Wooden frames you melt the wax from and boil. Try to do that with plastic combs and they woun’t fit in the box or anywhere else.

HögttryckPlast1 After scraping the sides of the dirty combs with a knife they were put in supers.

I got some tips how to do. I scraped the comb sides with a knife. Then I hanged the combs in a box. When the bees had stopped flying in the autumn i put these boxes outside without cover for the rain, snow, frost and sun on work them. It makes the wax and cocoon remnants to decay somewhat.

When the spring and flying time for the bees approach I used the pressure washer and the combs became not as new, but not far from.

HögttryckPlast2 When spring is close, before the bees start flying regularly it’s time for pressure washing, with excellent result.

The first bees in spring

VårVatten Water soaked up in old pieces of branches is tasting yum yum.

Yesterday March 20 in the middle of the day when the sun warmed the ground and the air, 8°C (47°F) in the shade. The first day of the year when bees collected water – in the yellow little wheelbarrow of my grandkids – and pollen in the spring flowers in the gardens, mine and my neighbors.

VårKrokus Pollen is best. Good for you too.

Lovely spring – life awakens for real when the bees are flying freely and prepare for summer!

Spring check of bee colonies

Vårkoll1 Picture 1. A good colony that has cleansed somewhat after winter.

Yesterday and today I checked 140 colonies of mine. I couldn’t reach one apiary with 6 colonies due to muddy roads. It was freezing in the morning but 50°F (10°C) in the middle of the day and sunshine. Four colonies had previously been taken care of, dead. These were small and had problems last fall, took the feed poorly and had had too little brood so it was no surprise.

Vårkoll2 A quite typical strong wintered colony on three square shallow single walled wooden boxes, the same colony as on picture 1.

Most colonies had been out on their cleansing flight after winter. But not all. Some sat still as in the middle of winter.

Another four colonies were now smaller than a month ago (was small last autumn as well) and they were not in harmony. Probably queen, nosema or virus problems. Probably they will die. Then there were four small colonies which sat quietly in a nice round cluster. They will probably survive. If this result holds it means 5% winter losses. I must be pleased with that.

In three colonies, mice had colonized the bottom box of the three boxes these colonies were wintered on. In one of these mice had totally cleaned out all the frames in the bottom box. The bees were sitting in the top two boxes. The mice had entered through a ventilation opening in the bottom. The nettings over it was apparently bad. In one colony mice had entered through a hole made by a woodpecker.

In another apiary a Woodpecker had made several small holes in a hive. This had a lot of feces right outside the entrance. The colony had obviously been disturbed by the woodpecker. The green woodpecker laughed in the background on my visit. But the colony was strong.

Vårkoll3 The fun strong colony on two boxes described in the text below.

One colony was especially fun to see. It was a small split of last year that failed with its new queen mating and started with laying workers. A pair of fists of bees left. Another small split in the same apiary had about the same story, after two queen pupae it had an egglaying queen, but only a handful of bees. Both of these were combined and dronebrood combs were removed. Now the small colony grew slowly and became strong enough to winter, but not very strong. Today after a perfect wintering, it is strong in the two boxes.

In another apiary was a small colony wintered quite week with 5 insulating dummy frames at the outer edges. The two boxes can hold a total of 24 shallow frames (137x448mm). The colony boiled with bees. It had obviously brooded in late winter and very early spring (it’s still early spring). It looked fine now and seemed to have come through winter well. There was some food left, but I lifted off the upper box and replaced the dummy frames with real frames with food, in both boxes.

All colonies look generally fine and the season looks promising so far now in March. We’ll see how it looks later on.

Daughter of the feral queen

Karin is a new beekeeper. She got a split from me with a daughter of the swarm that came from the wall of one of her houses, an unheated older, kind of summerhouse.

At the end of last summer, the new colony had grown strongly to three square shallow boxes. Then came the heather flow (Calluna vulgaris) and the bees filled a super above the queen excluder (the forth square shallow) with almost 20 kg of this thixotropic strong honey. And it collected about the same amount in the winter room (the three boxes). This honey is said to be difficult for bees to use as winter food.

It appeared a few wingless bees after harvest and this colony was the only of Karin had so as precaution it got 2 pieces thymol of dishcloth with thymol (2 x 5g) with about 12 kg of sugar in solution.

Karin&Hive Karin and her promising hive 13 March. 

The colony has been sitting still during winter, and heavy of feed. Some bees made a cleansing flight first week of March. It is visible on the hive top. Today, March 13th, we checked the colony together. With a long stick we scraped out a handful of dead bees. Not a bee came out and asked what we were doing. They sat still again. Temperature 36°F (2 °C) outside.

As we watched the bee cluster through a plastic sheet cover the bees sat quite tight but it was on the middle of the cluster. The bees have brood. We felt the weight. Lifted on one end of the hive and then the other. The colony was still heavy, but noticeably lighter than the last time we checked the weight. It has apparently made some brood during late winter/early spring. And it smells heather honey from the entrance of the hive. The colony is strong and looks very promising.

Karin Hive Daughter of the feral queen has wintered successfully on difficult thixotropic heather honey, preparing for a good season.