If you are at all cowardly (and I admit I am) going back to the scene of failure and a wee bit of scariness, is a hard step to take. However, it had to be taken.
I decided to wear my newish – and as yet unworn – Bee basic all in one. I even stuffed some extra kitchen towels into my boots where I thought there could be a hole that could attract the enemy. the new Bee Suit, by the way, has evolved a little since my last one and after Emily’s suggestion that the end of the long front zip was a weak spot I was delighted to see that this new one does a really secure fastening. I also liked the adjustable bands on top of the gathering at the wrists and the zips at the ankle have been repositioned to the outside – much, much better. I do recommend Bee Basic – they do so much so well. I have found that a smoker isn’t always a good idea and had been relying more on water spray. I had hesitated last time thinking water spray -> moisture which is supposedly worse that cold for bees. Nevertheless they do need moisture to use their fondant. I got everything ready and took a deep breath. My remaining 2 hives included a colony I had from Scott of HWBKA which he said were gentle so I thought I’d tackle them first. Both of these last 2 hives also have glass crown boards/quilts and with a carton of fondant covering the porter bee escape hole.
I opened the hive with trepidation. Like the colony that attacked me a couple of days ago there seemed more bees than I expected. There is something really magical about the gentle overflow /eruption of a mass of black bees – like milk boiling over without the mess after. The Thornes applicator with which I had practised in the kitchen with water and had another experience with the first hive really does work incredibly well and reduces the time to ‘recharge’ for the next seam of bees so the operation was completed before the bees really started to object. They’d still got sufficient fondant.
On to the 3rd hive which was weak going into winter. Fewer bees – still a weak colony. they had almost finished their fondant so again a quick treatment of just 4 seams and a replacement of the fondant container was done quickly. It was about 3 pm and fairly warm.
So, I mastered my fear, completed the task and knew that to date I had two really strong colonies coming towards the new season. This allows me to decide some of what I will do at the beginning of the season. I need to get some equipment back to Scott so I may do a shook swarm on the vigorous fairly new colony. I’d like to do the same on the weak colony but perhaps I might need to rethink that a little as it may need more support. I am certainly impressed with Scott’s bees and may consider buying another colony from him.
So I have treated just after a cold spell (hopefully a good thing) and we should have a couple of fairly warm and sunny days to help them recover. I just need to check what I need to do to responsibly dispose of the excess diluted oxalic.