The historic apiary at Buckfast Abbey regularly welcomes parties of beekeepers as part of their new education programme. Although it is known worldwide for Brother Adam's pioneering work on the controlled breeding of honeybees during the early years of the 20th century, the facilities have now been redirected from selective Queen breeding and bulk honey production towards community support activities. Clare Densley and Martin Hann provide a great afternoon experience, starting with a relaxed seminar in the apiary shed on current topics and then leading an inspection team into their lovely Meadow Apiary.
There was quite a long discussion about the poor survival of many colonies during this past winter. The generally warm weather, followed by some bitterly cold days, seem to be the cause of colonies dying or absconding. Often considerable stores were still evident in the vacated hives.
Virus diseases, such as DWV (Deformed Wing Virus) and Paralysis Virus can be transmitted inter-bees without the need for Varroa acting as a vector. Besides feeding the colonies with syrup there is little to be done to assist the bees when infected individuals are seen. Of course, if the Queen is infected she should be replaced as soon as possible with a healthy specimen.
Listening to such skilled beekeepers as they inspect their bees can deliver real benefits. Many thanks to Clare & Martin for again organising such an enjoyable and worthwhile workshop.