Summer Beginners Course

by Julia Wigfield

Led by James Mundye, assisted by 4 Instructors, Steve, Phil, Jitesh & Julia

Sutton Coldfield Association runs a 17 week Summer practical beginners course held each Sunday

afternoon in our dedicated Beginner’s Apiary. There are 20 beginners on our 2024 course. The course

covers a complete beekeeping season, from assembling your hive, swarm management including

artificial swarm management, the pagden method and nuc method, bee health & disease, Asian Hornet,

feeding how & when, an inhouse extraction session, products of the hive and finally a quiz, covering the

course, always interesting to see what has been learnt.

This week, as well as discussing, ‘choosing a hive’, we decided to perform a shook swarm on a hive

which is desperate for a complete comb change and a great opportunity for varroa control. The hive

was checked in the week to ensure that it is queen right and the Queen was seen, this procedure is

probably not for complete beginners but I’m sure they appreciated this demonstration so that they

would understand what a Shook Swarm was. After a quick check of the other hives in the beginners

apiary, we were ready for the shook swarm. All the equipment was ready & available, a new stand,

Queen excluder, (to stop the Queen absconding) fresh sterilized brood box complete with sterilized

undrawn foundation, a crown board, feeder with syrup, an eke, followed by the roof. We decided to

leave a drawn sterilized brood frame for the Queen to start laying in, as with this uncertain weather, its

going to take a lot to draw out those frames, and also a great IPM to show the beginners, so that once

that frame of brood is capped it will be removed with those phoretic mites in the cells, leaving our hive

hopefully free of varroa, for a while anyway.

The Shook Swarm was completed, all the bees now on fresh sterilized foundation, the Queen returned

to her colony and the old brood removed to be melted down/burnt. Now when we next go into this

hive next week, the beginners will have a better chance of seeing those elusive eggs !

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