As we move into the winter we should normally expect a little cold weather and a few sharp frosts but oh! no, rain and just more rain. Maybe good for water birds and beasts but not our bees who always cope better with the cold rather than the wet.
At this time of year we are normally discussing Green Woodpecker Protection and getting chicken wire or plastic sacks around hives so they cannot ‘get a grip’ and turn our lovely Cedar hives into shavings.
But no, this Autumn it is all about how waterproof your hives are and can they float above the flood water that has appeared in places never seen before. I received an urgent call to lift a few hives out of the reach of the rising water and it is a good job we did in pretty quick time.
Those of us that are able to choose our Apiary sites well away from water sources have also suffered this year as the ‘sodden ground’ couldn’t take any more water.
Back to Beekeeping – In the early part of the month there were plenty of Worker Wasps still around pestering the Colonies which hopefully have reduced entrances to keep out mice and other vermin. In my Apishield Hornet floor, the build of which does not like the wet, were many wasps and a few robber bees all very dead of course and fortunately no Asian or European Hornets. Please ensure you check your Varroa slides at the back of the hives and clear any build up of debris away to prevent attracting predators or helping to hide wax month Grubs. You should be able to tell the location of the cluster, that is once we get some cold weather, so any late application of Fondant can be located directly above the cluster.
The Association Apiary managed to give us a few surprises whilst we were adding Fondant and putting around Chicken/ rabbit wire. We clearly left well alone and informed the Bat-team of our discovery
It is that time of year to get equipment repaired and stored away from the rigours of the weather, not chuck everything into the shed or garage and then moan in the Spring when you find mice have had a comfortable winter destroying combs and Bee Suits. The suits will also absorb a lot of damp. Mildew is a devil to try and get rid of and oh! does look so unsightly for those of you who are fashion conscious …..
By the time we get to the end of the month normality weather wise may have returned and the cold weather causes the bees to form a cluster. The last thing we need to do at this time of year is to disturb them. Just make sure they are water and vermin proof, roofs cannot blow off and those of you in exposed areas, hives secured to the paving slab they sit on or secured to the ground. Heft the hive, by lifting it at the back, and if in doubt put a block of Fondant directly above the cluster in a plastic bag or cling film with a slit cut in the side above the bees so they have access. If they need they will use it. Better that than starvation in the Spring.
Those of you that despair at the floods and the mess humanity is making of our environment may take a moment to smile at nature making a comeback if given a chance. The mammals were a family of three down by the “Penny Ferry” as it used to be called and the birds were down river from there taking advantage of the flood waters. Those of you who are fisher people don’t cry – they too have families to feed.
The AGM is early in December always good to visit and talk Bees..
Next Month: Should we insulate our hives and treat for Varroa?