As we move into the month of October and the nights start to draw in, the Colonies will be working desperately hard on those warm days trying to feed off the last of the nectar from the Ivy and other more exotic flowering plants, as their ‘biological clock’ will have kicked in to say ‘winter is coming.’
They will also be stocking up the brood chamber with any pollen they can find and will be working the Asters, Nasturtium and Passion flowers as long as pollen is produced. Those gardeners amongst you, as well as planting those spring bulbs for early pollen supplies, might like to consider what is available now for the bees to work as we approach Autumn.
We should by now have finished all of our autumn varroa treatment. As ever, there will be very different mortality rates in my own Colonies depending on their strength and if they had a break in their breeding cycle due to swarming or loss of Queens.
I keep my varroa slides in for most of the winter, as it is a simple task to pull them out and see what debris the overwintering bees are dropping onto the slide as the weather changes as the months fly by.
Most of us will have finished feeding the bees (too late for syrup) or have left a big chunk of fondant on top of the Queen excluder above the cluster for them to consume when and if needed.
Get the mouse guards on if not already in place. The last of the worker wasps will probably die this month so one less thing to worry about.
I am lucky where I have my hives in that the wind does not get under the roofs and most of my stands are only about a foot off the ground, but if you have out-apiaries or windy ones like Chris has up at the Airfield, strap them down or put a heavy weight on each individual roof.
The bees will cope with well below freezing temperatures, but getting wet or damp will quickly kill or damage their chances of survival.
Last but not least – Green Woodpecker protection for your most valuable hives. The cedar that most are made of, is an oily but very soft wood so when we get those hard frosts (if that is the winter we will get, which will also kill Asian Hornets) and food becomes scarce, be assured any unprotected hives will be easy pickings.
Whatever you use be it plastic feed bags or chicken wire, please ensure you leave a way in for the bees and let the damp escape or you will cause more problems than you are trying to prevent! I normally use a metre tall rabbit wire about 2.5 meters in length which goes around the hive, is free standing, and allows the bees to fly between strands of wire especially on their winter cleansing flights.
Well that’s another active season over – time to get to the Association Honey Show, or at the end of the month the National Honey Show in Surrey. If not, plenty of recently published Bee related books are available and the Association Library has a copy of the new publication on the Asian Hornet – see the November newsletter with a good write up by John .
Next month – the cold arrives and the bees hunker down into a cluster to survive.