API of the Month

Mathieu Domecq

Editor-in-chief of API of the month

Let me wish you and your bees a wonderful and flourishing New Year! It is with pleasure that I welcome you to the API blog for further advices from your beekeeper, Mathieu.

How are the bees doing?

Over the winter, our bees consume a significant proportion of their reserves. Monitoring the weight of your hives and providing 2.5kg Apifonda® Sugar Paste is crucial.

These days, without this supplement you risk reducing the life expectancy of the colony. This improvement is now a must, as it is much easier for bees to digest than honey during the winter period.

 

More beekeepers?

Yes! Increasing numbers of you found a beehive under your Christmas tree. As a flashback to childhood or simply due to discovering this small but exciting world, a hive has become the Christmas present of choice for nature lovers.

This article is full of advice on the best apiculture equipment for everyone.

 

As regards the hive, it must include the following components:

A wooden or plastic bottom board, preferably ventilated, for the bees to enter and leave. It forms the base of the hive. It is also the part that suffers the most damage. It absorbs any moisture rising from the soil and also accumulates bee waste that needs cleaning. It is advisable to clean the floor once a year by scraping it with your hive tool. Think about the stationary components too; for example iron triangles for suspending the floor and the body are much more convenient than screws for unhooking.

Above this is the body, the central part of the hive that accommodates the bees and especially the brood (eggs, larvae and pupa). Dadant, Warré, Langstroth and other assembly hive models all follow this configuration. It’s a simple wooden (or even plastic) box with a system of racks or smooth strips on each inner side of the hive to place the frames or boards on.

Dadant hive body frame.

For honey, the super is placed on top of the body. It is the bees’ attic, as they used to say in the olden days. Naturally, there may be more than one over the course of the season, a sure sign there’s a lot of honey.

Of course, you should consider protecting the wood in your hive for a longer life. You can apply hot linseed oil (for better penetration) or coloured food safe paint if you want to be a little more up-to-date (available at beekeeping stores). A well-maintained hive will last ten to twenty years!

Frames placed in the hive act as supports for the bees when making their wax honeycombs. You can choose between wood and plastic. Frames are wired for adding the wax sheet. The wire can be vertical or horizontal. Personally, I recommend vertical wiring. The wax sheet placed in the groove will hold better in the heat before being stretched by the bees.

Your hive should be finished off with a sheet metal or chalet-shaped roof to protect against the rain. Again, there are several sizes and thicknesses available. The 105 mm high roof is the most convenient. It covers the feeder and protects against drafts. The chalet roof gives an aesthetic appearance and is used extensively in mountainous regions due to the snow.

A frame cover or a hive top feeder should be installed just under the roof to insulate the colony. I was won over by the plastic feeder with two compartments. It holds both syrup and sugar paste, prevents leakage into the wood and provides access to bees just above the array.

Ventilated jacket with round veil

Now let’s talk about equipment for you:

First, let’s think about the space suit, as many call it. This is the combination suit or jacket. The first is one piece of clothing from head to toe while the second is a jacket with a hat. There is now a ventilated model, which is comfortable in summer, believe me, I’ve tried it.

You should also think about a pair of gloves, incorporating a high cuff, available in rubber, plastic or leather.

The first iconic and indispensable tool is the smoker. It is basically a combustion chamber and helps to counter and calm the bees with thick white smoke. It is activated using bellows. Make sure you get a good-quality smoker. Think about fuel for the smoker and pellets, such as apidou.

Finally, you’ll appreciate having a hive carrier lift. Bees are relatively fond of propolis, a disinfecting resin for the hive. Using this will mean that you can peel the frames off and handle them gently, without causing any sudden knocks.

There is an even wider range of equipment available for beekeepers.  I’ve only shown you the essentials, but tools such as grips, a frame holder and even a brush can be helpful.

 

We’ve always been happy to support you with the API brand for almost a year now!

 

Here’s hoping our new beekeepers get off to a good start !

MATHIEU’S APIARIES

Honey & Apiculture Store

Photos ©lesruchersdemathieu

Working bee