This month in the Hive
So… Winter is with us!! We have had some chilly nights, cold days and the occasional day of rain. As temperatures fall below 14 degrees, bees rarely emerge from the hive, instead clustering in a “ball” to maintain the necessary hive and body temperature for the queen and their own survival.
Where you have the occasional very calm, sunny day, with a hive in a sheltered position it is highly probable there will be a sudden outpouring of bees for a very short time in. They may circle around nearby, then shortly afterwards return into the hive. This is a cleansing flight.
Bees are amazingly hygienic and will avoid fouling their own hive for a period of three or four days.
On such “pleasant days” bees may be actively bringing a limited additional nectar and pollen into the hive. Whilst the addition of more pollen is a positive factor, being stored to provide protein for newly emerging bees in spring, an excessive inflow of nectar is not positive if the bees are unable to maintain hive temperature at the level required to ripen it. As the bees will cluster to maintain their warmth, the nectar may ferment, causing mould and disease in the hive.
What else to do this Month?
i) Check your hives from the outside.
Gently lift your hive from the rear to assess any change in weight every couple of weeks. Through doing this you can assess if it is necessary to consider the use of supplementary feeding with a sugar water mixture.
ii) Don’t remove frames for inspection.
By following the steps in i) above you can assess the state of the hive without opening it and exposing the bees to the cold air outside. It’s best to leave the bees alone at this time. Unless there is little or no wind and temperatures are above 18°C it’s far too cold to expose bees to the air. Opening the hive may chill / kill any brood, and require the bees to use additional amounts of scarce stored food for energy to regain hive temperature.
iii) Repair frames and boxes.
Attend to any existing frames requiring rewiring. Do not fit new foundation until spring time otherwise it may become brittle and loses its aroma. Any hive boxes, bottom boards, lids requiring repair / rejuvenation, repainting, should be attended to. Any painting now allows time for the paint smell to vanish before having to use them in springtime.
iv) Clean and store any surplus materials for springtime.
Ensure you have removed as much surplus wax and propolis as possible before storing these materials otherwise you may be harboring unwanted pests and diseases for next season.
v) Consider you requirements for next season.
Waiting until the start of springtime to order additional equipment or queen bees may see you disappointed. Consider your needs and place orders in July or August or you may well find suppliers are unable to supply your needs
Having referred to this last month, I hope you have made some moves to expand your understanding of bee(s) beekeeping via reading, videos, online research …
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