Practical Beekeeping Training at Cowdown Apiary 2023 - Winter Programme


With the colder, more inclement weather now with us the regular activities at Cowdown are being wound down with only essential maintenance tasks being undertaken. An ad-hoc programme of these activities will be sent out to a maintenance team but effectively Cowdown is now closed until Spring next year – 2024.

The year despite the vagaries of the weather has been successful and it is hoped that that those participating in the regular events have found it beneficial and might return to assist the new intake of beginners from the start of April 2024.

With thanks – Mike Barrie, Jim Stuart and team – November 2023

Activities                                                                                          Monthly Diary Guide             

frame cleaning, adding foundation to frames plus Hands in hive                        TBA

· Record keeping BBKA model from BBKA website

· Personal equipment and bee inspection kit

· handling frames with bees

Hands in hive                                                                                                                    TBA - at Cowdown

Colony inspection process. (DEFRA acronym)

· D- disease

· E- environment (e.g. space)

· F- food

· R- ratio sealed brood: open brood: eggs

· A- aggression / amalgamation

Record observations; swarming predictions; suggest actions

Adding foundation in brood chamber

Preparation for artificial swarm

Club member apiary visit                                                                                              TBA

Hands in hive                                                                                                                        TBA - at Cowdown

Varroa monitoring/control. E.g.Use of Icing sugar

Swarm control- what do you do with Q cells

Other possible tasks

· Feeding

· combining below average size colonies

Club member apiary visit                                                                                                   TBA

 Main honey flow – super management                                                                              TBA - at Cowdown

· Adding supers

· Moving outer frames to middle with new foundation

Disease inspection.

· Varroa check

· General health


· Entrance reduction

Club member apiary visit                                                                                                     TBA

· Assessing bee temperament;                                                                                               TBA - at Cowdown

· Check entrances (wasps)

· clearing bees off supers, honey extraction, return supers

· Autumn varroa treatment.

 · Uniting colonies                                                                                                                      TBA - at Cowdown

· Assessing colony stores

· Winter feeding

 · Preparing colonies for winter                                                                                                 TBA - at Cowdown


Colony inspection using DEFRA acronym

D -- DISEASE -- Are there any signs of disease or brood conditions indicating abnormalities.

E -- EGGS -- Is the colony queen right and the queen laying the expected quantity and pattern of eggs.

F - FOOD -- Has the colony sufficient stores (food) to last until the next inspection.

R -- ROOM -- Has the colony sufficient room in the brood box for the queen to continue egg laying and                                             workers to store nectar in the supers 

A - AVERAGE -- (a) Early Season. Is the colony building up compared to other adjacent colonies.  

                                  (b) Mid Season. Are there any queen cells in the colony. Know what to do if open                                                            queen cells or sealed queen cells are seen.