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The Apiary in October

Above – Worker Bee foraging on Ivy, taken by one of our members, BT.

As we approach that time when the clocks go back and those dark nights creep in, life in the Colonies will start to settle down as the bees prepare for the cold months ahead.

If the weather permits, that is warm temperatures and no rain, the ‘worker bees’ will be out and about collecting the last of the Nectar and Pollen from the likes of Ivy, which flowers well into October.

Pollen pouring in
Last Pollen grab before Bee Lockdown!
Last Pollen Grab before Bee Lockdown!
Last Pollen Grab before Bee Lockdown!

After ensuring our colonies have sufficient stores for the months ahead, our responsibilities for the six months are about keeping the hives ‘vermin’ proof and ‘weather proof’.

It is time to get Mouse Guards on by reducing the front entrance down to a few bee gaps and placing about two and a half meters of rabbit wire around each hive, so the Green Woodpecker cannot drill holes through your lovely ‘Cedar hives’ once the winter frosts make the ground too hard for them to feed.

But it is the damp and wet that will do more harm if you do not ensure hives are ‘warm and tight’ and any condensation, once the bees have clustered, has somewhere to escape and does not drip back onto the clustering bees.

Those of you with Varroa floors, and that is most of us these days, should have no concerns. Just take the “slide” out once a fortnight to remove debris and ensure that fresh air can circulate.

So that’s it for most of us as we batten down the hatches, ensure roofs cannot blow off, either with a heavy weight or straps and reflect on how that season, protecting us all from Covid 19, has gone.

Time to plan ahead for next year and think what you will be doing if one or all of your hives decide to swarm next year, have you spare equipment on order?

I noticed one Equipment Supplier at the National Honey Show was offering free carriage on sales over £15.00 and Cedar National Brood Chambers (flat pack) at about £16.00 so there will be plenty of bargains around in the next few months – if friends and relatives are looking for those ‘social distancing presents’.

There are many discussions on Zoom at present, the series from BIBBA is to be highly recommended on breeding local Queens for local needs. This is not about that specialist subject of ‘Grafting’ and the specialist skills and equipment you need, but breeding from your most productive quiet bees using the equipment we use everyday in the Apiary.

So time now to reflect on the past season and plan for 2021……

Did you treat for Varroa this autumn? This is the result of using *Apiguard and still in October, falling mites, pollen and the odd earwig.

October – Close up of Varroa Board after an earlier autumn treatment
Varroa Board showing varroa even in October after an autumn treatment.

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