Garden blogs

Wet Wet Wet

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I have just come back up to the office soaking wet after checking the Apiaries. Sometimes you just have to go outside despite the weather!

All this wet weather is a worry, as it’s not the cold that kills bees, but the damp and mould, so we like to check the hives regularly to make sure we have done all we can to help our bees.

The hive rooves were thoroughly waterlogged, so these were switched for dry ones. Having leaky rooves will not help and this driving rain reminds me to think about making some deeper rooves for next winter.

When they were checked last week the bees had started to eat through their supplemental fondant that had been given previously, to ensure they have enough stores to get through this winter. Many had already taken half of the Kilo patty so I wanted to check to see if they needed more today.

Sometimes despite the weather, we have to disturb the bees a little for their own good. Most hives were given another patty of fondant as we are coming up to the critical time for the bees’ survival.

All hives have had oxalic acid treatments to knock down the Varroa mites. This also helps the survival of the winter bees who have been doing their job of keeping the hive warm and the Queen looked after to bring her through to the spring.

As the days start to get lighter, the queen will be preparing to lay new brood to replace the winter bees that have survived for so many months.

During the summer a honey bee can live for up to 6 weeks, as she works so hard that she expires after quite a short time. During the Winter months, the bees are not flying to forage and are relatively still in the hive, they don’t wear themselves out, so can live for up to six months.

Soon the winter bees will start to be replaced and it takes up a lot of energy to raise brood.

The hive needs a store of pollen and honey to make the brood food to feed the larvae, so it is vital that they have enough food. It will still be sometime before the bees have spring forage available to them, so this is where we can help.

Even though we leave a super of Honey stores on each of our hives, we still find in wet, warm, damp winters the bees can quickly get through their stores, so a little intervention from us can make all the difference to our colonies helping them make it through to spring.

So far all are alive and well, let’s hope it stays that way.

Lynda Christie
January 20, 2021