Apart from when I took a week’s holiday, I have been taking daily notes of the inside and outside temperatures of the hive on my allotment; Sarah has been doing the same with my TBH at her Bee Happy Plants nursery, Dave has, (I think) at Sandhills, and maybe one or two others around the place. A few days ago I opened my hive to treat the varroa with Oxalic Acid syrup and discovered why the temperatures are lower than expected: the cluster has moved a little away from the sensor, which has been waxed into position. Rather than distort the figures by repositioning the sensor and, at the same time, disturbing the bees that were ignoring me, I left it there. The following day the temperature was in line with those I have come to expect, but yesterday it had shot up by over 10 degrees. Did I time it right by applying the oxalic just before brood rearing? Did the syrup stimulate the start of rearing?
The following day, I went across to Tatworth to apply Oxalic to the hive there. Sarah got dressed up in full kit but I just had an elderly veil that had been stitched to a T shirt. We opened the hive gently from the rear and moved forward until we got to the bees, about half way along and started applying the syrup, seam by seam. The bees were in a stingy mood! I must have collected about 20 stings, mainly to the wrists. Why is it that bees tend to sting where the sleeve joins the hand? Is it a change of temperature, slight sweatiness, visual contrast between the colours or something else? Some went up my sleeves and one found herself inside my veil. I kept calm and carried on, singing to them to emphasise the calmness. Eventually, Sarah relieved me of the syringe and did the last couple of seams. She has never been stung! Perhaps I should apply the sharp end of a bee to her as part of her education!
I had intended to treat more hives but, when I got home, couldn’t find the syringe. I had left it at Sarah’s and so will have to go and collect it. There may be tea and cake as well.
I checked my hive at Halstock yesterday. Of the two empty CDB hives on the site, one was roofless, the other had been blown over. Having righted them, I opened the National, containing the colony that I had extracted from the Corn Stores at Maiden Newton Mill. They were dead. Starvation was the cause, despite having been fed. I had reduced their entrance to a slot an inch by a quarter to make it more defensible against the wasps that were invading, but something had pushed the wood block into the hive rendering it ineffective. So now I’m down to seven.
The flowers seem to think that spring is on the way. I have trodden on 5 daisies with one foot; I have counted 6 dandelion flowers; seen a patch of primroses and several hazel bushes with long and dangly catkins.