With the recent discovery of an Asian hornet (Vespa velutina) and nest in the Tetbury area of Gloucestershire, and the further discovery of an Asian hornet and nest in Woolacombe, North Devon it is important for beekeepers to be aware of what an Asian hornet looks like and to remain vigilant.
The easiest way to differentiate the Asian hornet from the more common European hornet (Vespa carabro) is by looking at the abdomen. The Asian Hornets abdomen is almost entirely dark except for the fourth segment which is yellow.
More information about identification, where to report sightings and other background information is available from the Nation Bee Unit website.
We are lucky to have Glyn Davies coordinating our apiary management in Torbay, some years ago Glyn produced a beekeeping timetable detailing the yearly schedule for beekeepers in Devon.
The timetable includes among other things, details about how many bees one would expect in a colony what main sources of forage are available, when to apply treatments for varroa and when to take samples for disease testing. Loads of stuff in fact, it is a really useful schedule which both new and more experienced beekeepers will find useful and informative.
This sequence of photographs show the principles of extracting honey to keep it fresh clean and undamaged by heat. The set-up has been developed over several years on a domestic scale but is able to manage now a crop of dozens of supers. Many beekeepers with just 2 or 3 hives yielding 5 or 6 supers can manage with smaller apparatus adapted for the kitchen but the basic principles are the same. These are summarised below. Clean water and hand cleaning cloths are essential.
Extract the honey as soon as it comes from the hive or keep the supers warm. This allows the honey to flow more easily.
Uncap safely and drain cappings which will contain a lot of honey. Remove the wax capping with a very shallow cut. At least three quarters of honey in the combs should be sealed and no honey should drop out of the comb before cells are uncapped.
Avoid equipment that heats the honey and cappings such as Pratley trays.
A radial extractor is the most efficient and a motorised one is a wise investment.
Coarsely strain honey from the extractor as is runs into to the Settling tank or container to remove wax bits.
Store the honey in air-tight food containers. It will set firmly sooner or later.
Warm the containers to melt the honey to maximum of 50C, Then fine filter it through 200 mesh nylon or stainless steel, allow it to settle to let micro air bubbles rise to the surface then run into jars.
Do not store honey in jars for long periods.
Well-drained cappings can be rendered down in a solar wax extractor. Other methods can be read about in guide books or invented!
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