Statistically, last week was supposed to be the coldest of the year but it looks like we are experiencing the same false spring as we had last January. There are hazel catkins in abundance and dandelions, snowdrops, mahonia, and daffodils all beginning to flower. I notice that the leaf buds on the rose bushes are growing which is not a good thing. Last year we lost all of them when we had some real winter in March. It took a long time for everything to get going again and we never had the first flush of rose flowers we normally enjoy in May.
A week ago, I treated all my hives against Varroa mites by dribbling oxalic acid in sugar solution on to the clusters of bees. I must admit, I think I left it a bit late in the case of some of the hives. You are supposed to carry out this treatment in the depth of winter when there is no brood. That way all the Varroa are out of the comb cells and attached to bees. I think that some of the hives have already started raising brood so the effectiveness of the oxalic acid might be reduced.
I read a very interesting article about this form of protection against Varroa and I have placed a link to it at the bottom of this post. One of the observations that the author makes is that the bees seem ‘peppy’ after the treatment. Well today the sun came out at lunchtime so I made a quick visit to some of the hives to see what was happening. I placed a camera at the entrance of one of the hives to record what was going on and watch it later at my leisure.
Here is a little video I made up from what I recorded. The bees look in fine form, really clean and bright and if you look carefully, you will some bringing in some yellow Hazel pollen and a little orange Dandelion pollen. Remember this is January 25th! I have a feeling that this hive is going to need a lot of attention if I am to stop its bees swarming in the spring.
This article is well worth reading: