What are we to make of this weather? Last week I was in North Wales freezing cold in the wind and baking in the sun. The only way to stay comfortable was to rotate slowly like meat on a spit - and for a vegetarian that does not come easily!
This week we have more of the same except that as the week progresses the weather, for a time, will get colder. Cold weather means bees have less energy to gather food but the longer days and shelter in the hive mean the Queen could be busy laying. Do check your hives and see that there are enough stores. It may be necessary to top up the reserves.
Another problem with this weather is the lack of rainfall. April has not been a month of showers - in fact some areas have had almost no precipitation all month and what they have had was snow! Bees need water. Make certain that there is water available near the hive. National Bee Supplies do a fancy water trough or you could make your own with a plant pot tray with some pebbles in it and then some means to support a bottle upside down.
From the 21st April we, as bee keepers, are required to notify DEFRA if we have varroa in our apiary. DEFRA see Varroa as a serious threat to bee keeping in this country and now require us to supply information so that they can monitor the problem.
The reporting process is very simple - a tick box on the BeeBase web site. At the moment this is not in place but I expect it to be up by April 21st. For those who resist putting their details on BeeBase there will be an alternative method of notifying the presence of varroa in your apiary.
If you are not aware of Beebase then now is the time to become aware of it. It is run by Animal and Plant Health Agency and contains a wealth of information on bee keeping. It is also where you register your apiaries so that the Bee Inspector can keep you informed of problems in your area. It also includes a record keeping section where you can enter your own records of apiary visits.
I know that there are some out there who see any registration of their hobby as an intrusion on their privacy. If the hobby were painting toy soldiers or lace-making I could understand the reluctance to register. In the case of bee keeping it is important to register. If my bees were to get A.F.B. or E.F.B. then I can call on the bee inspector to advise me. If the bee inspectors know of other colonies close by they can easily notify them of the problem. If you are not on BeeBase then the Bee Inspector has no way of contacting you.
And for those of you who do not a varroa mite - this is what it looks like though much enlarged. For more details then do look on BeeBase.