After a very dry September we can expect much of the same in October with balmy temperatures and little rain as the first frosts start to creep in, forcing the colonies to start clustering and consuming less food.
The Ivy has been flowering well and used by many insects including our Bees but I have Cowslips, Dandelions and Red Clover flowering in my garden as the bees take great delight in this end of season bountiful supply of Pollen.
The Balsam near water courses and damp ground is still in full flower and the grey coloured pollen the Bees collect from it is evident if you have time to watch the returning foragers.
But beware – any of us that fed syrup earlier to the colonies, will find much of it has been consumed to breed winter bees, as the weather has been so warm and fine, to keep the Queens laying well. The good side of that is plenty of young bees to get the colony through the winter and if it keeps warm, we can be feeding syrup to the end of this latest warm spell, as the bees will be able to ‘cure’ it and get the water content down before capping it as winter food.
If not, put a good lump of Fondant on and heft that hive to see if they have enough stores to get through the winter months to the next Nectar Flow, April 2019 if we are lucky.
Those of you who use metal Mouse guards need to think about getting them onto the front door of the hives before cold and wet arrives, at this rate somewhere in December. I will use my wooden ones which reduce down the entrance size and keep the vermin out.
As the weather is still so dry, it’s a good time to ensure all hives are weather proof especially the wood part of the roofs, so the water runs off rather than seeping into the wood and running down the outside of the hive walls. I just use a waterproof stain and treat all the roofs that will protect my occupied hives through this winter. Remember those two snow storms in March……
I’ve also been cleaning up used Queen Excluders ready for use next year.
I put them in these large plastic compost/gravel trays and fill it with half a kilo of Caustic Soda and cold water and let the chemicals do their bit to soften up the wax and propolis. I leave it about a week (so much else to do in life!) put the mixture down the outside drain and then the messy job starts.
Old trousers fit for destruction (we chaps appear to have many pairs of those or so I’m told), old apron, old shirt, eye protection and tatty gloves. Then I find a really flat surface, woodworker’s bench or hive roof works well, and use one of those £1.00 shop wallpaper strippers to scrape off the remaining residue.
Wash in clean water, wipe down, then they can be used to protect supers in my storage shed. All cotton clothing used goes off to the recycling bin at the tip no longer fit for human apparel. Excluders all ready for using in the spring if necessary.
The Varroa treatment should be completed by now, so remove the aluminium trays and recycle them, as we all seek to help the environment with recycling what we can.
If you have any Poly Nucs you are intending overwintering small colonies in, as I am, ensure they are strapped down. On visiting the association Apiary last week I found roofs blowing around in the Apiary, no bricks or straps on! That has been rectified.
Once you are happy that the bees are settled and well fed for the winter, it’s time to get the Green Woodpecker protection on. I use 2.5 meters of rabbit netting, which the bees easily fly through. I wrap it around the entire hive. Beware – if you don’t, cedar and Poly hives are both a soft option for hungry Woodpecker beaks but that trouble doesn’t normally start until after the first hard frosts, probably in February 2019.
It’s the Honey Show later this month and watch out for the Suppliers’ sales as the season closes down completely.