The colonies are still in ‘Lockdown’ as the temperatures this month are just above or below freezing but it has been the driest January in many decades.
They have had a couple of days when “cleansing flights” were permitted as the temperatures rose but in general they have been confined to their hives.
But those of us who have Glass or Perspex crown boards will have noticed there is still a lot of movement within the hive even though it is too cold for them to be flying.
If you check the Varroa slides you can see the crumbs that have dropped through the Varroa screen, evidence they are still alive and breeding. The light brown coloured crumbs are the cappings from the brood cells – a sure sign the Queens are breeding, as they appear to have done most of the winter.
The down side of brood throughout the winter, is that the Varroa have been able to keep breeding and increasing their numbers too, so keep an eye on the ‘mite drop’ numbers as we may be having to treat again if the winter remains as warm as it is at present.
A warm winter results in colonies consuming more stores so keep an eye on hive weights by lifting the back of the hive (Hefting) and if in doubt a lump of Fondant in a plastic bag or plastic tub on top of the cluster will keep them going for a while. Just make sure they have access to it with a split in the bag or holes in the plastic tub.
After scanning the Equipment supplies sales, time to part make loads of frames ready for Foundation insertion when needed in April/May.
So we leave well alone at present and next month Spring flowers, temperatures permitting, will provide the pollen the colonies will be in desperate need of, to continue breeding and feeding themselves.
Those of you with an out Apiary, check for storm damage. Those strong winds can move hives around!
Next Month – Spring is nearly here and signs around the hive to look out for as the cold weather ends, well hopefully.