Image – Deer at Charlecote park
As the bitter cold and snow of the January weather eventually arrives, our colonies will tighten their clusters around the small amount of brood in the middle and as long as they have plenty of food within reach they will be fine.
I try not to disturb them when it is this cold as any flying bees will just freeze and die as the ‘clumsy beekeeper’ delves where they shouldn’t in an attempt to ensure they are still alive!
If you lift the back of the hive and think it is lighter than it should be, a lump of Bakers Fondant directly over the cluster, or nearest hole will reassure you they have enough food for fuel to produce heat.
This picture shows a row of colonies in my Apiary and the closest one is clearly doing well as you can see the heat from the cluster has melted the ice/snow on the roof.
The wire around the hives can be a nuisance when carrying out winter checks but better that than Woodpecker holes as they struggle to find their food in the frozen ground.
If you have Varroa floors with a removable slide you should be able to see the location and strength of the colony from the “crumbs” that have fallen through the mesh floor onto the slide. This will be debris from removal of cappings from food supplies or brood cell cappings as they have started to breed winter bees ready for the arrival of spring flowers.
Towards the end of the month the snow arrived but insufficient for us to concern ourselves with blocked and frozen entrances. The bees unlike us ‘Virus bound folk’ have more sense than to go out walking or flying in the snow and cold.
We will have seen Crocuses and Snowdrops starting to flower as the month advances but no good for the bees yet as it is too cold for them to get out on cleansing flights, let alone foraging for pollen.
As all the Commercial Shows, where the Equipment Manufacturers normally get us all spending a fortune, have been cancelled look out for the bargains they are all advertising on line. Buyer beware – some are better than others and watch out for those postage charges unless you and a Bee Buddy decide to purchase over a £100 together
Next Month: Depending on the weather, watch those bees collecting Pollen by the bucket-full to feed themselves and the growing brood, plus advice on how to deal with a colony that hasn’t survived the cold of winter/spring.
Improvements to the Apiary Track.