The month has turned out to be unseasonably cold and wet and once again our colonies have had little opportunity to escape their confinement to collect water and pollen.
But on the occasional warm afternoon, out they pour to collect that essential spring pollen they need to progress the breeding of young bees.
This is when you unfortunately notice the odd hive which appears to have few or no flying bees, which should encourage you to inspect further to see what is happening.
When I saw all this Bee soiling (poo) outside the front entrance to one of my hives, I straight away suspected “ Nosema” which cases the bees to defaecate inside and outside the hive.
On opening the hive this is what I found a dead colony with most of the frames soiled and smelly.
So solution is – all the frames the bees have died on are burnt, the hive sealed and Acetic Acid fumes used to sterilise all the other old soiled combs preventing the spread of Nosema throughout the Apiary. Full details on how to do this are on Bee Base: www.nationalbeeunit.com https://www.nationalbeeunit.com/assets/PDFs/3_Resources_for_beekeepers/Fact_Sheets/Fact_14_Fumigating_Comb.pdf
I will always scorch my hives inside and out after this treatment and then waterproof the exterior of the hive ready for the season ahead.
As it is so cold and wet, leave the examining of brood chambers until next month when it is warm enough to wear a ‘T’ shirt outside or you may ‘ chill the brood’ and do more harm than good.
But the Queens will be increasing their egg laying ready to replace all the older winter worker bees which consumes a considerable amount of food.
If in any doubt they have insufficient food, put a good lump of Fondant on the Queen excluder above the main cluster, if they need it they will use it.
Next month’s weather will get warmer after the late frosts enabling foragers to get out and about collecting pollen, so on a warm day first inspections can take place.
Time to start planning Queen breeding as the first Drones appear.