Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Honey suckle, Alcohol and Sugar

Winter flowering honesuckle cuttings, Alochol Propolis solution and sugar!

Heres a picture of my hives. Its mid winter and generally the weather has been fairly mild up until the last three weeks. Since then we have been finally been experiencing some normal temperatures.
I usually take the calm of winter to very lightly treat around my hives with a contact weedkiller, usually glyphosate. It is actually a pretty safe herbicide, if there is such a thing. It breaks down very quickly and it not volitile in cold weather, making the treatment around hives fairly safe.
I choose a very calm day when the tenperature is below 10, and try and spray late aternoon when most bees are in the hive.
The concentration is half the recomended dose. The weeds are very slow growing this time of year and they all still die off, but take a good 3 weeks before you see the signs of your treatment. If you look closely you will see the treatment starting to work. I like to treat around the hives this time of year, as there is very minimal risk to hives and the effect lasts well in to the spring, spreading some of the work of keeping the apiary weed free, to a minimum.

As usual I have fed my Nucs sugar candy and they are really removing it quickly from its top  position to within the hive. This is a good sign that there is a queen at the helm, but also an indication of how mild the winter has been. Warmer weather allows the bees to move more freely within the hive and does give bees the chance to stock up on sugar and stores that may have been depleated close to the brood and few eggs that are present this time of the year. When the cold does come, if food is within a few centimeters of reach, then it increases the colonies chances of survival.

Propolis and alochol treatment on new nuc box.

I couldnt resist it and as I managed to find a few more scraps of 10mm ply i have made another swarm trap, this one to hang on a tree. I made another last year that worked the first time i used it after i treated it with liquid propolis and I needed to do the same.

So the bad news is that you cant buy  virtually pure alochol from our local chemists any more in France, even in very small quantities, like 500ml.  So I have been forced to try this industrial alochol, which actually has less odour (that I can smell) than the other type i used to buy. so pleasanly surprised, i have tried this one instead.
I mix up in the centre jar roughly 50/50 alochol to propolis scrapings. I find if you take the jar indoors and let it warmup in a warm room it helps all the propolis disolve. I also add a couple of marbles in to the bottom of the jar, to help agitate the mixture.

Dont forget, this stuff is a terrible stainer of hands and clothes!!! as before paint in to all the main areas. A couple of days later, give it the blowtorch treatment, just to the point of scorching over the surface of everything yo have painted. Next, leave it outside for a couple of weeks in the worst of the weather. This will help remove and heavy odours that may remain!

Winter flowering honeysuckle, Lonicera Fragrantissima.

 I rooted these cuttings late last autumn and even though theres not much leaf on top, the roots  beneath the surface are going bananas|! This is a great shub for bees. Flowering in february, if the weather permits, its a great source of pollen, so plant it very near to your hives. It dosent need support, is very hardy and contains lots of pollen. You can see it on the stamens if you look carefully!

I bought one stock plant 2 years ago. It was very pot bound, which i potted up and gave a good spring feed. I managed to get 6 cuttings to root from that first attempt, which was a miracle for me!
So those plants are now big enough to be planted out this winter / Spring these cuttings above will grow really well this year and go in for next year. So it takes a little time, but within very few  years
you can soon produce a lot of shrubs.

Winter Beekeeping.

 Don`t forget winter beekeeping is nearly as important as summer beekeeping. Plan what you want to do, and organise accordingly. make up frames, check your old frames for signs of wax moth and treat accordingly. Start a list of possible places to put out your swarm traps in only another 10 weeks!

We are well in to february but if the weathers right it will very soon be time for the first spring inspection and feed!


  1. Very interesting post, Richard. I would love to keep bees. My father did when he was young. I seem to be very affected by the stings though - not to the point of anaphylactic shock but extreme swelling at the sting site - and wonder if it would be wise. I did help a friend in Cornwall until I reacted so badly. I do love the idea though and honey -and do have a field which would be suitable for a hive site. Sandra

  2. Great posting Richard - sorry to have taken so long to read this... it's been a busy week!