As we move into February we can normally expect some hard frosts but clear warm days, allowing colonies to escape their hives for cleansing flights and collect some desperately needed fresh pollen.
But oh no! it’s going to be the wettest February on record and the Snowdrops and Crocus, early Pollen sources for our colonies, have bloomed and faded before they can be visited by the winter worker bees.
But as ever not a lot we can do to prevent this with the weather as it is, except ensure the colonies are weather proof, have a lump of Fondant directly over the cluster and if you are so inclined a Pollen Pattie to supplement their diet.
The good thing is, we are hearing of very little Woodpecker damage at the present time as the ground is so wet and soft they have plenty of places to feed and not be attracted by our developing colonies.
It is perhaps inevitable in this month we will find our first dead colonies that for one reason or another have failed to thrive.
This colony was in a single Broodchamber and had plenty of food but the 2019 Queen clearly did not mate well as there was no sign of any Brood when I took the hive apart to see why they had died.
There were just insufficient bees left in the colony to survive the wet and cold and no young bees hatching out to replace the older dying bees.
So out comes the workshop vacuum cleaner and those diseased bees I can remove and burn to ensure any diseases they might just have are not spread around the Apiary.
The combs they died on are burnt on the log burner and any old combs which are “black in colour” due to several breeding cycles are also burnt. From long experience there is little or no wax left in the frames worth recycling.
The others depending on quality will be sterilised with Acetic Acid or the wax reclaimed using my “ steam box” ( the Association has one to borrow) and the frames boiled in Soda Crystals using my ancient Burco Boiler (the Association also has one of those we loan out).
You might be pleased to know the Feral colony I rehived last month appears to have recovered well and ahead of other colonies in the Apiary, were out collecting water and pollen in low temperatures which kept others in their nice warm hives.!!!
This month a short but sweet article as we can look forward to warmer dryer weather in March and a visit to Beetradex at Stoneleigh in the middle of the month.
Please remember whatever ‘some’ of the manufacturers of equipment try to tell you, the second quality frames and hives you will find on sale will be readily acceptable to the bees and all look the same after one season.
Anyone needing to update their veil, jacket or suit will find a large display of multicoloured ‘articles’ for sale which importantly you can ‘climb into’ to check sizing and I would recommend you go for comfort above style or looks!
The Bees are not fashion conscious even if you might be.!!**##