So far this year we have the longest, coldest and wettest period I can remember; not good news for the bees.
At this time of year, older workers are dying off and the new brood should be developing both individually and in number but
it has been so cold and before that, wet that the workers have had little opportunity to get out and forage for fresh pollen.
Without new and increasing amounts of pollen coming into the hive, little good quality brood will be reared. Last season wasn't
not good for bees so fewer colonies went into the wnter really well stocked and although we have been feeding them sugar to
keep them going, pollen is what they really need now. Not a good start to the season and we have heard of many colony
losses this winter so far, with many more to come with beekeepers beginng to look into the hives.
is essential that you check your hives to see if they have enough stores to keep them alive, even in this cold weather; a
few cold moments while checking stores doesn't kill colonies - lack of food does, very quickly indeed. It is too cold
to feed syrup, as I write this it is snowing outside, but as soon as the weather does change for the better (and surely it
can't be too much longer) we can feed syrup.
Hopefully sometime this month we will be able
to get into the hive for a good spring clean and a comb change, so now is the time to make up frames and generally check that
all your equipment is clean and ready to go.
If you have got hives that have died out it
is important that the boxes are taken out of the apiary and cleaned up. Old comb can be melted down and the boxes cleaned
out with a blow torch, ready to be re-occupied. If hives are left in situ, any remaining stores will be robbed out as
bees begin to forage when the weather warms; any disease in the hive will then be spread throughout
Traditionally, April is when some colonies start to swarm but I think it will
be later this year in most cases, although there are no hard and fast rules in beekeeping (which is what makes beekeeping
such fun!) so do begin regular checks on colonies as soon as the weather improves.