A BARBECUE and demonstration was held by the Dromore Beekeepers on December 29 at the Tullyhenan Fort Apiary, on a hilltop near Banbridge.
Vanessa Drew, from Ballyroney, who is currently conducting an Intermediate Beekeeping class in Dromore High School on behalf of the Ulster Beekeepers’ Association and, among other things, is teaching Varroa control held the event.
Varrora is now endemic in Ireland and is wreaking havoc with honeybee colonies. Colonies which are not properly treated will die. Up until two years ago, Varroa could be controlled in Northern Ireland by inserting plastic strips impregnated with a powerful varroacide but the clever little mites have become resistant to that treatment.
Currently Varroa is controlled by using products containing thymol but thymol treatment is temperature dependant and is less reliable than the plastic strips had been. Accordingly, a supplementary treatment, using oxalic acid, is sometimes necessary which is dribbled over the bees but it can kill the larvae and pupae so it requires to be used when there is little or no brood in the hive; hence the mid winter treatment. After a short briefing by Vanessa, Willie Blakely and Robert McCreery conducted the demonstrations by each taking groups of three students.
Happily, all the colonies in the apiary were alive and so were treated. Prior to this procedure, few beekeepers would have considered opening up a beehive during winter so a live demonstration not only gives the students the methodology, it also gives them the confidence to go home and treat their own bees.