In the apiary


Bees have been flying well but they will not necessarily have brought in enough stores to balance those they have eaten so the prudent beekeeper will aim to have a super full of food in place in case we get another cold winter. You may have supplemented the nectar the bees have brought in with sugar syrup or you may have preferred to feed Ambrosia ™ – an invert syrup – which can be bought from bee suppliers or from the Association and has been prepared for immediate use by the bees.

In any event the provision of additional stores is a must so it is worth buying some fondant icing as a feed for your bees as this can be kept for emergencies. A 12.5 kg pack can be bought quite cheaply and should last a fair while. A heft of the hive should tell you whether or not your bees have sufficient stores.

It may be a wise move, now that seasons are changing and temperatures fluctuating, to place a kilogram of fondant in clingfilm or in a plastic bag over a feedhole in the crown board immediately above the brood nest. The bag should be placed with the slit facing downward so the bees have immediate access to food should they need it. The fondant should be checked regularly and replaced if it hardens.

          On a mild day put the super immediately above the brood chamber with the crown board above that and the queen excluder above that. Then, if there is a cold snap, the bees will not need to leave the brood behind in order to feed. If the queen comes up over the course of the winter and lays eggs in the super the situation can be rectified in the spring.

Some old-timers recommend putting a full super under the brood chamber so that the bees pass the food on their way into the hive. This method works but if you haven’t done this by now it’s not to be recommended this late in the season as the bees may well have clustered. It’s something to bear in mind for next year.

I did remove a queen wasp from under the roof of a colony so it pays to be vigilant.

Mouseguards should be on by now.

If you have mesh floors it might be an idea to put a solid one immediately underneath. This can then be removed when the weather improves in spring.