There was a surprise treat for Ealing beekeepers this weekend – Pat had brought us some mulled wine, which he heated up and dished out to eager takers. He gleefully told us that unlike most recipes, his doesn’t involve burning off most of the alcohol (he followed Felicity Cloake’s ‘How to make perfect mulled wine‘ method).
We also had a bit of a feast to go with the wine – mince pies, baguette, cheese and cake. Well it is Christmas. The bees huddle up and eat and so do we.
With this warming fuel in our bellies we even managed to do a bit of beekeeping. In the association apiary hives are given a one-off anti-varroa treatment of oxalic acid around December/January time. Those of you outside the UK may not know that UK beekeepers can no longer legally use generic oxalic acid crystals and should use Api-Bioxal, a Veterinary Medicines Directorate approved product containing oxalic acid, instead. Of course you can still buy oxalic acid crystals, which are cheaper than Api-Bioxal, but you would technically be breaking the law if you used them for anything other than ‘hive cleansing’. Would anyone find out… probably not… but in an association apiary things need to be done by the book, so on Saturday we trickled Api-Bioxal on the bees.
I’m happy to say that both our hives were bursting with bees. They were not in a tight cluster and the day was warm enough that some colonies were flying. It’s a quick job to trickle 5ml of the Api-Bioxal syrup mix over each seam of bees. They were gentle on us and the most difficult part was closing up afterwards without squashing any. The National Bee Unit estimates it should have a 90-95% efficiency rate – you can never get all the mites but you can get a satisfying number.
Exciting news for bee music lovers – on Wednesday 21st at 10am BBC 6 Music have a bee-themed show, as BE will be performing their 2016 album ONE, which was created for the Hive installation at Kew Gardens using a live feed of bee colony sounds. If you can’t listen live you can catch up with it afterwards.
Happy Christmas everyone!