Tuesday, 30 September 2008

The good weather appears to be over, just as the ivy was beginning to flower, and the bees looked as though they had a chance of building up their honey stores for the winter. That, of course, makes feeding even more important. I don't normally do it, apart from small or newly-established colonies which don't have an accumulation of honey in the broodbox. This year, however, everything except Hive 1, which is too weak to manage so much, is getting 8kg of sugar, and I'll be watching them closely over the winter. It's not what I like doing, but for once, after two dreadful summers. it's worht it in order to avoid the risk of good colonies starving.

Normally, if a colony doesn't store enough to get through the winter, it's best to get rid of it and its genes. With only a few colonies, I've begun to think that it's better, instead of letting it starve, to keep taking frames out so that it never becomes big enough to raise drones and pass on its genes. Then it can be requeened from a better hive when I'm ready.

Bad weather in summer is very bad for the imported strains, which don't mate properly in poor conditions. So their queens will have been failing, while native types will have had more success. So there should have been some selection in favour of the better-adapted strains I'm interested in. Doubtless poor mating will have contributed to the 30% of hives which failed over winter, given the number of queens which are either imported, or raised from imported stocks.

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