HEALTHY BEEKEEPING by Flemming Vejsnaes
Again, this was a powerpoint in the dark so I had difficulty taking notes. Flemming has a speedy style too, so I found it difficult to note the last point while attending to the next, so my notes are scrappy as well as illegible!
On the rare occasions I have used powerpoint, I have found it very helpful in getting my ideas in order and making points succinctly, but, instead of having the presentation on screen, most of the time the projector is off and the lights on so that people can read the notes on the hand outs I have prepared, with plenty of space for their own comments. I then talk around the points inviting comment and interruption as we go along so that the session is interactive and may be steered the way the audience (customers!) desire rather than having to stick strictly to a script. It works for me!
Flemming has been employed by the Danish Beekeeping Association since 1991 and has visited lots of bee enterprises and conferences around the world. He told us about the COLOSS survey of colony losses of those beekeepers who chose to complete questionnaires.
He spoke extensively about Danish beekeeping. Main crops are rape, clover and heather with crops averaging 33-52 kg per hive. Polystyrene hives are popular, but he also showed us pictures of traditional hives that look a bit like compost bins! There are lots of mating islands where you can take your queens for natural mating but woe betide you if you accidently bring a drone along!
According to my notes, which must be wrong as the percentages don’t add up to 100, they have 43% Buckfast bees; 28% Italians; 10% Carniolans; 5% AM Mellifera (black bees); 17% Landrace(?) and 23% dunno.
Timing your beekeeping actions by planning ahead leads to success. Adapt to the present climate, flow, and especially the properties of the bees. Fastbuck are productive, gentle and low swarming.
They use the shaking method for AFB (don’t try this at home!) and change brood frames every year. Leather gloves carry diseases! Select for hygienic bees. Mark queens.
Varroa strategy: they want clean honey and clean wax with no chemical residues and so use only organic acids with no Bayvarol etc. In Spring they remove drone comb. In Summer they use formic acid, often via a Kramerboard. In Winter, oxalic acid. To apply formic, wear acid proof gloves, goggles, apron and have a bucket of water nearby etc as it is strong stuff and you wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end! Flemming showed a video of a sheet of cloth being laid over the brood nest and, using a syringe, 2ml per frame of 60% formic acid applied before being lidded.
Oxalic acid in sugar solution is applied in December: 1kg of sugar to 1 litre of water and 75 grammes of oxalic acid (presumably the dihydride). This is applied at body temperature to avoid chilling the bees.
Flemming directed us to the Danish BKA web site www.biavl.dk which has English translations.