Plenty to report in this update, as autumn nears and our beekeepers, Khalil and Salma, begin preparations for the winter months. In the late afternoon of Saturday 17 August 2019, they attended to the beehives on the LMC roof, then carried on after sunset in the Maryam Centre observation area, in the approaching darkness removing the last of the honey-laden supers.

The clearer boards worked well, and the year continues to be excellent for beekeeping – little wonder all the beekeeping suppliers are rushed off their feet. The banner photo shows bees tucking into some honey on the edge of the frames.

There are now 6 strong hives on the roof, plus a nucleus colony with a newly-mated queen. Previously there were 8, but 2 were united to ensure all the colonies are as strong as possible.

Khalil reports all is well in the observation area:

“All but one hive has had the excess honey removed. The Maryam Centre hives are very strong; both full colonies have young queens from this year, and will be overwintered on a single brood box. The queens will shortly cut down their rate of lay and the colony size will start to reduce.

“We will shortly start Varroa [a parasitic mite that can infest bee colonies] treatment to ensure they are healthy going into winter. The Varroa treatment takes 4–6 weeks, and needs to be completed before the end of September to ensure the colony is as healthy and mite-free as possible for when the queen lays the winter bees. The winter bees need to survive the entire winter and are responsible for feeding the first batch of new spring bees as well, it is therefore important they are as strong and healthy as possible.”

We also asked Khalil about the small swarm rescued in June, still perched on top of the shed; we previously reported that it had a queen who was laying:

“I had not seen the queen in the small swarm the last two inspections, and this week we found the bees have decided to make queen cells. They usually know better then us, and may have found the original swarm queen substandard. I will check again in a few weeks and see if a new queen has emerged. The virgin queen will still need to mate, which may be difficult this time of year – many hives are throwing out their drones, so we will need to continue to monitor this nucleus carefully. We still have the option of uniting the swarm with another hive.”