I recieved this this morning, courtesy of JayB and the folks at Allotments4all. We just save seed from a few varieties, send it in, and this is what we each get. Lots of rarities in there!
I've given the bees their annual oxalic acid treatment, for varroa mites. I use 100g sugar, 7.5g oxalic acid, and 100ml water. The acid came from Thornes a few years ago; a 500g packet should be enough for a lifetime. All four colonies were alive. The two colonies headed by queens I raised this year are extremely strong, with clusters on 7-8 seams. They flew better than the others during the autumn, when the strengths were more equal. The wakest is the swarm which moved in last May, which is on two seams. It may be dwindling, or it may just be genetically predisposed to wintering in a small cluster, which obviously eats less and is less likely to run out of stores and starve.
Both the colonies with older queens are light, so I gave them both candy. This is made like human candy. I used 2 1/2 Kg sugar, with a mugful of water per Kg, and boiled it until it formed a reasonably solid ball when dropped into cold water. All very unscientific! It's just sugar with added water, so the bees can use it without having to find the extra water. The process has to be stopped before ti caramelises and turns brown, as bees are unable to digest caramel, and the extra matter in their gut can finish a colony off in a long, cold spell with no opportunities for a poo flight.