The Mite Before Christmas – a beekeeper’s poem
Twas nine days before Christmas, when all through the bee house
Not a creature was stirring, (thanks to the mouse-guard) not even a mouse
The roofs were lifted up with great care,
In hopes that the beekeeper would not need to swear.
The bees were nestled all snug in their comb,
While visions of plum-tree sugar in their heads did roam.
And queen, workers and varroa snug in the centre gap,
Had just settled their minds for a long winter’s nap.
When at the hive top there arose such a clatter,
The bees sprang from their bed to see what was the matter.
Up to their beekeeper they flew like a flash,
Showed off their behinds and made to gnash.
She spoke not a word, but went straight to her work,
And drizzled every seam, to each varroa irk.
And you may have heard her exclaim, ‘ere she hastily retreated out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, unless you’re a mite!”
Just a bit of winter silliness… I think that’s the limit of my rhyming skills.
Back on Sunday 16th, with the assistance of an accomplice (my father-in-law Tom), I completed an Api-Bioxal oxalic acid drizzle on my two hives as an anti-varroa treatment. Back when it was legal to do so I used to use pre-mixed oxalic acid from Thornes, so this was my first time using Api-Bioxal. I’ve made some notes here about it, in the hopes that I’ll remember for next year.
- The Apiarist’s Oxalic acid preparation and Trick(le) and treat posts are very useful. David recommends using a weaker 3.2% acid to sugar solution rather than the 4.4% solution given on the Api-Bioxal box recipe.
- Next year it would help to replace the battery in my digital scales!
- The Api-Bioxal powder can be mixed with the sugar syrup in a tall plastic milk carton before carefully transferring to the trickle container through a funnel.
- When you live somewhere very rainy it helps to have an assistant holding an umbrella over the hive.
- Afterwards any remaining solution can be neutralised by adding an equal amount of milk before disposing of it (at least, I hope it can – another beekeeper gave me this tip).
I’m not feeling too confident this winter as this is my first time overwintering hives in Cornwall. The bees barely seemed to be clustering at all when I did the drizzle. They have fondant on, so I need to keep an eye on that over the next couple of months. The hives are strapped down against the wind and badgers; mouse-guards are on; chicken wire has been loosely fastened round to protect against green woodpeckers. I think mostly all I can do for now is get spare equipment ready, in the hope that I will need spare boxes come spring.
Happy New Year to you and your bees.