Thermosolar Hives in Autumn

Another beautiful day at Berwick, visiting the Thermosolar hives, part of the Solar Bee Project.

I didn’t check inside the hives as by this time of year, the bees are sealing any gaps with propolis and need to focus on collecting nectar and pollen to provision the hive for winter. In any case, I much prefer a more observational method and by looking at the activity at the entrance as well as the inspection board, I can establish the general health of the colony. Purposeful is the watchword, and if the bees are flying steadily and there is a sense of motivation and coherence about the bees’ activity, it is a really good sign that all is well. We can end up relying too much on disrupting the nest to assess our hives, and it is really important to get our eye in on what ‘normal’ behaviour looks like so that we get to notice when everything is fine. This relieves us of the obligation of having to open the hive and upsetting the delicate balance the bees work so hard to maintain, simply to establish that the bees are perfectly fine.

I have a video here of my latest visit:

Hive 1 appeared much quieter than Hive 2, but I am not overly concerned as there can be many reasons for this, and pollen being brought in is a good sign that all is well. I checked both inspection boards and Hive 1 has more by way of mites but considering the levels were high this time last year and the bees have coped with them, I will continue to monitor them.

I like to take a tour of the site to see what else is going on, as this is a biodiversity project, so the beehives are really providing a focal point and centre of gravity for the other measures. The of swathes of grasshoppers that pinged up in front of me when I walked through the grass a few weeks ago have been replaced by craneflies, the perfect food for migrating birds, as well as bats and spiders which are making the most of the abundant food. Cranefly larvae – leatherjackets – are also consumed by many birds and mammals so in spite of their rather ungainly flight pattern, these Daddy Longlegs are a vital source of protein within the food web.

Most of the thistles have gone over now, their fluffy seedheads catching on any rough surface. I heard Goldfinches twittering in among the teasels and docks, no doubt taking advantage of the seeds. I sat and watched the breeze through the poplar leaves. They really are the most incredible trees and the leaves really shimmer as they catch the light:

Here are some more photos from the site. It was lovely to see the sheep!

4 Replies to “Thermosolar Hives in Autumn”

  1. Hey Jen,

    I’ve been scouring the internet for examples of people using the ThermoSolar hive, and happened on your blog. Going through your posts I wasn’t sure if you’d ever posted much about the effectiveness of the solar treatments for Varroa, and wondered what you thought.

    I’m considering getting one of these hives, but the cost and amount of information available has me wanting to reach out and get some real world experiences where I can find them. I mostly wondered what your overall opinion was of them, and whether you prefer how they work to regular hives.

    If they are able to do as they say, I’d be definitely interested to hear, especially coming from a sustainable point of view, as in my first year of beekeeping, I’m already very off-put by the wide spread use of chemicals as a primary treatment.

    Thanks in advance!
    Radjax

    1. Hi Radjax, thanks for reaching out. I have not used the hives’ treatment function as it’s really quite complicated and involved, and requires the bees to have built straight combs on foundation, and I don’t use foundation so there is a fair amount of cross comb. To be fair, I hadn’t fully appreciated the process of the Thermosolar treatment cycle and if I had, I probably would have thought twice about taking them on! I’m afraid I wouldn’t necessarily recommend them as although they are very well insulated, it is easy to replicate that with other more natural materials and I prefer more natural solutions to the honey bees’ challenges. Part of the link with the hives and the site I’m working on is the solar connection so there is a relevance but I can’t comment on the efficacy as I have not done a treatment. They do have Varroa (especially the first colony we installed) but seem to cope perfectly well which I do feel may be to do with the increased insulation. If you are embarking on a sustainable beekeeping journey do check out my Patreon.
      Thanks again for your comment.
      Jennifer

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