We've had a strange September and start to October with unseasonally warm temperatures. The spider population appears to be booming with big fat round spiders all over the place and ladybird larvae months after they should've metamorphosed. This month I spotted a Grey Dagger Moth caterpillar, I'd thought caterpillars were more of a summer thing but according to the Internet these caterpillars don't make a chrysalis till November so whilst it's still warmer than last year perhaps the weather is slowly returning to schedule.
|Grey Dagger Moth Caterpillar. Looks like a child coloured it in.|
I went to Booker's because they previously gave beekeepers a discount on sugar but that doesn't appear to be the case this year. As they're a wholesaler it's still cheaper than high street supermarkets. Whilst most of the sugar is in the baking section near the barrels of oil and gallon bottles of vinegar the cheapest sugar was tucked away with the tea bags. I think it worked out as just over 69p a kilo in the end. I later saw a post in the forums saying B&M had some at 50p a kilo.
The thick winter syrup is referred to as '2:1 syrup' but that's based on imperial measurements in which it was 2 pounds of sugar to 1 pint of water. The UK's old Imperial measurements are basically a confusing mess of names and numbers with 16 Ounces to a Pound, 14 Pounds to a Stone and 160 Stone to a Ton, and for volume 4 Gills to a Pint, 2 Pints to a Quart, 4 Quarts to a Gallon, 2 Gallons to a Peck, 4 Pecks to a Bushel and 64 Bushels to a Quarter. 2048 Quarts to a Quarter? Confused yet? Surprisingly these old measurements still linger, examples being pound jars, pint glasses and land measured in rods and acres. Under the metric system 2:1 syrup is actually 1KG of sugar to 630ml of water.
|Grubs up! It's Syrup. Again.|
|Full Rapid Feeder, with the lid on.|
|Empty Rapid Feeder, 2 days later.|
The Adam's Feeders are the essentially the same but far bigger having the same footprint as a Super or Brood Box, they're also made of wood. A solid crown board goes over the feeder then the hive roof. I filmed a short clip of bees taking syrup in an Adam's Feeder on Hive2. The bigger feeder makes things easier for the beekeeper as it means less time having to top it up. On the other hand mould in the feeder can occasionally be a problem which is a bigger pain with a bigger feeder.
Bees taking syrup in an Adam's Feeder
As well as the syrup I'm giving the bees they already had a lot of stored honey in the brood boxes. I'd actually tied bruising the comb to get them to move it up into the Supers for me to extract but they seem to have moved it sideways in the boxes instead. The bees are still quite busy foraging at the moment too.
Busy bees at the entrance to Hive4 on 11/10/14
I'm still not convinced the Queen in in Hive4 has successfully mated, but it's a bit late to be doing invasive hive inspections. I've had a quick look at a couple of frames from the middle of the hive and not seen any eggs, however given the recent temperatures and fact the workers are packing away lots of syrup in there even if she is mated she may not be laying at the moment. The bees seem very placid and they're bringing in pollen which may bode well. All four colonies are looking pretty strong at the moment so I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best rather than dequeen them and unite the workers with another colony.