Title picture showing Cleansing Flight
As the harsh weather starts to pass, on any warm days the colonies will be out and about on their cleansing flights, after some weeks tightly clustered at home.
If it’s warm enough towards the end of the month, the early Crocus and snowdrops will flower enabling the worker bees to get out and about on warm days collecting pollen. Always a good sign you have an active laying Queen in the brood chamber.
But also be aware you may take the roof off the hive, to ensure all is well and put on a lump of Fondant if necessary, to find they have died out for one reason or another.
If you do find this first seal the hive so vermin or robber bees cannot get in, twist entrance block around, and then delve a little further.
I normally grab a cardboard box to put the dead bees into so they can be burnt later.
With this colony they have clearly had a failing Queen plenty of food but few mouldy bees left and no sign of any brood.
I will always burn the combs the bees have died on to prevent the spread of disease, but sterilise the remaining combs for use in Nucs later on in the season
In another hive for some daft reason, the bees have moved from the brood chamber though the Queen excluder and into the super which was put on above an eke.
This colony had plenty of food in the brood chamber but they starved in the cold as they could not get back down to collect it. Note bees with heads down in the combs.
Again this hive will be sealed and sterilised using the drawn brood comb when breeding Queens after this season.
Other than ensuring they have plenty of food in the Broodchamber, are vermin and weather proof, it’s best to just leave alone at present.
The cold at the end of the month will cause the colonies to cluster keeping themselves and the brood warm.
Once temperatures rise “game on” for pollen collection but that I suspect will be well into February as another cold snap forecast.
Next Month: Lots of equipment sales and shows about, time to plan for the season and maintain the equipment you have in use, especially any external woodwork.