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This month in the apiary


Oh how sad I was to do my last bit of beekeeping for the year yesterday, removing the last Apiguard tray, and tucking the girls up for the winter.  Of course I assessed the amount of stores they had, and with at least a full super each, I don’t think they will have a problem.  Assuming that you have also completed your preparations for the winter, it is best just to let the bees get on with it without any disturbances now.  Getting the roof off the hives yesterday was tricky in some cases because the roof had been stuck down so well with propolis.  Opening the hive only unsticks the propolis that insulates and glues the hive together.  My interaction with the bees will therefore be limited to maybe adding some fondant in December or January if I think it is needed (depending on the weather).  Don’t be tempted to feed syrup now as it will be difficult for the bees to reduce the water content down to store and use during the winter months.

What’s going on in the hive?

The older bees will have started to die out and the new young bees bred in September and October will sustain the colony through the long winter months. The queen will still lay eggs through the winter, so you should see bees bringing in pollen on warmer days. 

The drones will have been ejected from the hives as they no longer serve a purpose.

What’s in the larder?

Things are beginning to die back now but I still have a few plants trying to make a show! My Rudbeckia and Verbena bonariensis soldier on and the Himalayan balsam is still blooming by the river.  My Michaelmas daisies are still flowering and attracting a lot of attention.  The star of the show though is the ivy which is attracting all the pollinators around – the buzzing from it is amazing: there are honeybees, ivy bees, wasps, European hornets and flies feasting on it, as well as all manner of insects that I am unfamiliar with. Luckily no sign of Asian Hornet, but I spend at least 5 minutes a day watching just in case.  (Even longer if I am prevaricating over household chores!)

Enjoy your beekeeping… now onto cleaning up all that kit, and preparing for the Autumn shows!  If you haven’t had a go at entering any of the shows, give it a try!  In particular if you haven’t been to the National Honey Show, it is a great event with lots of workshops and seminars – I always learn a lot, and it gives me the opportunity of droning on about honey bees just that little bit longer with similar fanatics!

Today’s photos are of bugs on my ivy!

Identification credit / blame – David Clague