The Dartford Beekeepers

Dartford Branch of the Kent Beekeepers’ Association




           As I sit down to write this piece the weather is still warm and I have just been to town in nothing warmer than a T-shirt.  This might seem to be pleasant and favourable to us but it is a bit of a nuisance when it comes to the bees.

           A good and cold winter is perfect for the bees as they will be clustered together and conserving both heat and energy and in doing so they will also be conserving their stores.  When the weather is mild they will be moving around in the hive and as I have seen at the apiary they are even flying daily and removing the dead to a good distance from the entrance.  This is good housekeeping when there is forage available but during the winter months it can only lead to the consumption of stores faster than is good for them.

           We are promised a couple of cool nights to start the year but this is not sufficient for the survival of your bees and you should heft your hives to ensure that they have still got some stores available, if the hive is feeling a little light then you should consider some emergency feed.  This should take the form of fondant placed directly above the brood frames so that the bees can access it when the weather is cold without spreading the cluster.  I tend to cut a hole in the bag that the fondant comes in and place it over the hole in the crown board so that the hole in the bag is directly over the hole in the board allowing the bees unhindered access and preventing a cold draft when they have eaten through the fondant.

           DO NOT feed your bees syrup as they can not process it in the cool or cold weather and it will ferment and cause your bees to suffer from dysentery doing them more harm than going hungry.

           Last thing to do is to ensure that your hives are both secure in the winds and water tight against the winter weather.  Check them after any storms and if you were intending to treat for Varroa with Oxalic Acid do not delay too long as soon as you have the opportunity on a cold day get on with it as the Queen will be starting to lay a small number due to the days getting longer already.     

           Happy New Year  and check out our facebook page as we will be at the Apiary from time to time and feel free to pop along.

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