SO FAR this winter has proved to be a mild one. There have been a few cold nights when there have been clear skies and temperatures have fallen to about -6 deg C but mostly daytime temperatures have remained above freezing and often around +6 deg C. Yesterday, 22nd January, the temperature rose to 11 deg C, although the actual temperature at my apiary was +8 deg C. There was a light wind from the SW of about 5 mph and the apiary was bathed in sunlight. It was therefore an opportunity to observe if there was any activity at the entrances to my hives. The video clip below shows the activity at colony #3. It is a colony of black bees that has a 2019 queen and is housed in a brood and a half. I was delighted to observe the activity at the entrance to the hive which was my confirmation that the colony is strong and surviving.
With a mild winter the bees are not going to cluster as often as they might do when temperatures are lower and so they are likely to use up more food stores. I supplement all my colonies with bakers’ fondant as an insurance that they will not run out of stores and die of starvation. Today, all colonies have a good supply of fondant so they can consume it if they need it. And I plan to make another quick check in about 3 or 4 weeks from now.
The above photo is of colony #2. The roof and top insulation has been removed to show some of the bees moving around the top bars in the hive (Black bees with a 2019 queen housed in a double brood box). There is 800g of fondant provided in an upturned tub placed over the central hole of the see-through ‘quilt’. This fondant has hardly been touched since it was first put into position back in October.
My sixth colony is housed in a poly NUC. This is the first time that I have attempted to overwinter a colony of bees in a NUC. So far so good as the video clip below shows good activity at the entrance to the NUC. At the time of taking the video I had just taken a quick look into the feeder, where there is a supply of fondant. The NUC had still to be secured with a ratchet strap.
I passed my basic beekeepers practical/oral exam with SBA and was given the certificate in November 2019.
I haven’t yet turned towards studying for the modular exams but in an attempt to keep thinking about beekeeping I have agreed to give a talk, next month, to the local Rotary Club on the subject of beekeeping. I will not be giving the talk to fellow beekeepers so I won’t feel intimidated 🙂
Best Wishes to All for 2020.