The days are getting noticeably longer
February is my favourite month of the year, we can have varied temperatures and all sorts of weather, lately it has been bitterly cold, but when the sun comes out there is a glimmer of spring to come! The snowdrops are out and the daffodils and other spring bulbs are just waiting to pop their heads out to greet us.
During this cold snap I am resisting interfering with the bees. I am holding my breath and just waiting for the temperatures to rise before I take a peek at the colonies. They have all been treated for mites and have had supplemental food given over the winter so fingers crossed they will all make it through.
I am turning my attention to other jobs and preparations we can make for the season ahead.
All of the supers have been cleaned and stacked but need new metal runners attached after their clean. I have removed the plastic ones as these cannot be scorched to sterilise them, so they will be replaced with metal ones.
Hive parts have been cleaned, scorched and treated with Danish oil to help preserve the wood and keep them looking smart.
The store cupboard has been checked over and decisions are being made as to how many frames will be needed for our spring inspections. Most colonies had their brood frames renewed last season and it is general practise to renew all frames every three years. This time we will be checking for any damaged or mouldy frames and replacing these.
Our thoughts are also turning to making plans for queen rearing and checking we have enough equipment such as breeding boxes to bring on new queens. We attempted queen rearing last year, but our timings were a bit off so hopefully we will be better at it this year by planning earlier.
We always recommend new beekeepers obtain local bees that are suited to the local environment and rearing your own queens is a good way to continue this.
Also during the winter months, myself, students and volunteers are busy swotting up for the beekeeping modules. We are being quite ambitious and have enrolled for two topics, honeybee management and honeybee biology. I find studying for the exams is a good way of keeping up to date and you learn so much about the bees no matter how beekeeping experience you may have.
Wish us luck for the exams in April!
Ecosystems Trainer and Beekeeper