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This month in the apiary


With the weather being a bit colder, the bees will be tucked up in a cluster, and not expending energy flying.  Nevertheless, it is important to continue to keep an eye on stores.  So heft your hives or (as I do) just put some fondant on just in case, better looking at it than for it – I don’t like anyone in my household to go hungry!

Don’t be worried by a few dead bees on the landing board or in front of the hive – this is normal and tells you that you have undertaker bees doing their job, and clearing out those that came to the end of their working life. Just make sure the dead bodies are not blocking the entrance!

Make sure your hives are protected from the elements and wildlife as appropriate – just check they are ok periodically, especially if there are any extremes of weather.  If you have mice around, fit your mouse guards now to keep them out, if you haven’t already done so.

On a warmer day, check to see if any bees are flying – I always find it comforting seeing a few pop out for a poop!

What’s going on in the hive?

The queen may still lay eggs through the winter, so you should see bees bringing in pollen on warmer days.  Apart from that, the bees will go into a cluster in the colder weather to keep warm.

What’s in the larder?

There is very little forage around now, only the last of the ivy, my viburnum tinus, and a mahonia are about, plus the faithful gorse remains in flower!  The recent colder weather has killed off those flowers that were flowering in our warm autumn.  Do make sure that your bees have a water supply nearby if needed.

Now is the time to put your feet up and catch up on back issues of Beecraft and BBKA News, with maybe a glass of mead, reminiscing on your glorious beekeeping year and your success at the honey show!  Wishing you all a very merry Christmas, and very best wishes for a healthy and productive New Year!