Portugal experience

So I have been keeping bees now for 3 years, with varying degrees of success. I have a full, thriving hive, and an empty one. The first two years resulted in the loss of two nucs/colonies and the current colony ‘discovered’ the hive by themselves. In the beginning of the year I discovered that they had a varroa infestation. I treated them with oxalic acid (a spray, where one simply sprays each frame of bees, and it lasts a year). Over 2500 mites were killed and a lot of others were shed after powdering the bees with icing sugar. They also had a little chalk brood, which has remained evident, albeit in small quantities, throughout the year. The other major negative has been the inundation of Vespa Asiatica (Asian hornet) which is now rife everywhere. I have located 1 nest this year, and two nests last year (all in forests near by), which I had destroyed. I have also killed 1300 wasps this year, mostly with my home made swatter, but also with a BB air pistol, which I used to kill wasps when the ivy was in bloom (they go after insects and bees on the ivy. As we near winter the hornets are thinning out and the bees seem to appreciate my intervention. I have chickens which clean up dead bees and there are also lizards living in the rocks below the hive, which help clean up, along with yellow jacket wasps.

Now for the contentious part: I have have decided not to harvest this year, and I have also decided to largely leave the bees to themselves (apart from the hornet interventions). My last inspection was in June. I have since added a medium box for brood and a flow super with QE, and I have added 5cm foam insulation. In the absence of any other local knowledge, this is my plan of action, and I will report back the results next Spring. The months of September and October, so far, have been the busiest months of the year, with average daily temperatures in the high 70s/low 80s (mid to high 20s/low 30s C). Lots of pollen and nectar coming in.

  1. I will leave everything as it is and I will not remove the QE (I know you will warn me about propolised QE, frozen queen, damaged flow frames) but that is what I am prepared to put up with).

  2. I will next do an inspection in Spring next year and decide what resources I am prepared to harvest then.

  3. The bees are multiplying and even crowding the entrance during the day time. If they decide to swarm then hopefully they will go to the empty hive, which I have ‘armed’ with home grown lemon grass.

  4. I will perform another oxalic acid treatment then.

I will report back on all these points after that inspection. I have attached photos of the hive, as well as the swatter I use to kill the hornets. I even killed a hornet yesterday as it was flying away from the hive, having snatched a bee as the bee arrived. The wasp was stunned and killed; the bee itself, although stunned, recovered, and I put her back on the landing board, where she briskly went back inside.

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Hi John, after my & Wilma’s experience a couple of weeks ago, I would strongly recommend removing the Flow super before winter. We harvested honey for a client from 20 frames after our sub-tropical, mild winter. It was difficult to get the honey to flow. The owner couldn’t get honey to flow, so I brought the frames home & attempted to do it on our dining room table/ work bench. A lot of honey had crystallized, & I’m guessing that a lot of propolis was in the frames, which combined, made it difficult to open the cells.

I ended up using 2 keys & locking them in the open position permanently. That constant pressure must have been enough to slowly open the frames. Some remained open after removing the keys after 5-6 minutes, while some re-closed. It’s not an experience I would wish upon anybody, especially you my friend.

On top of that, you can’t help but wonder if that constant pressure on the plastic is a good thing. Probably not, & could lead to failures sooner, rather than later.

Thanks Jeff - all understood. I have always understood that it is better to learn from others experience than one’s own. I just have difficulty reconciling what I see from Cedar on his channel. Do you know if he removes the supers at his site? I know his climate is mild, but only slightly more than here, and we are getting warmer year on year.

It looks significantly cooler in Sintra than Byron bay.

Thanks for that, friend. Interesting data. Right now (and for the past week) it is 81F, which doesn’t appear anywhere near the graph, but I do appreciate that it is a forecast average for the month! I will stick with my plan, unless I see a catastrophic change in the hive. (next day) @Chao06, I see now why the weather graphs look more severe than my experience. Sintra town has a local weather phenomenon caused by the mountain, and so it is mostly humid and there is cloud a lot of the time. I live about 500m from the edge of that cloud and what I experience is much more like Cascais. In fact, the cooling effect of the Atlantic often means Cascais is 2 or 3 degrees cooler than where I live. That all said, there is a better comparison to Byron Bay when using the Cascais model.