Monday, November 16, 2009

Tucked up for the Winter.

Yesterday seemed likely to be the last day of good(ish) weather we are in for, at least for a while. So, I decided to take a look and see how the girls are doing.

I was pleasantly surprised, and even shocked. Yes, my girls have been eating the sugar syrup I have provided, but of late they haven’t seemed to have had much interest in it and consumption has slowed down. Maybe with the good weather we had last week they preferred to get a more varied diet from natural sources? Anyway, the sugar that remained in the top feeder has become quite crystalline over the past week or so, and I think this is probably a combination of the strength of the syrup and the warmth of the hive drying it out. So as an alternative, I made up some of “Ted’s Mush” – a mixture of 1.5kg of sugar to 250ml of water (or 4lb sugar : 1 cup water) to see if this improved their uptake.

I was prepared to remove the top feeder and place the mush on a piece of parchment paper directly on the hive frames. However when I removed the top feeder I was really, I mean really, surprised by the number of bees! It was heaving in there – busier than a Nottingham nightclub on Ladies Night! Every frame had bees massed on them – WHICH IS BRILLIANT! They, on the other hand, were pretty unimpressed about being disturbed – and began to act as though the bar had run out of “Bacardi and Coke” at 11pm (just to extend the metaphor). From what I could see all the top frames looked full of stores so I am quite happy. I didn’t bother to add any mush on top of the frames so I just left some dollops of it in the top feeder. The word is that leaving the top feeder on for the winter won’t do any harm to the bees and may in fact help provide some additional insulation. I did try to look in the bottom box, but when I cracked it ajar a ton of bees emerged here as well! So rather than excite them further I simply changed the entrance reducer to the smallest size and made a retreat!

I’ve no idea really, but I reckon that I’m on target for a split in the spring - the girls look really strong right now. I am planning to get hold of a second hive and I will move a few frames of bees across to a new home in the spring. I’ll probably buy a new queen for these bees, rather than force one and take the risk of her disappearing on her maiden flight, but I’ll have to think about that. It would be nice to have a bee with similar genetics to the one I already have – she’s been great!

The rain arrived Sunday evening and looks pretty set to stay around all week. Also, Thanksgiving is next week, so I think it is a little optimistic to expect any more extended periods of warm weather this side of the spring. I think the inspection was well timed!

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