It was too warm in December to treat the colonies with oxalic acid in order to kill off varroa mites so this had to be done in January when we had a cold snap. I added some fondant to each hive to give them extra food although I think they had enough stores.
Both hives have kept their entrances clear of dead bees and there has not been any woodpecker or fox damage to date. We had some terrible gales but I had strapped the hives and they survived in-tact. We have had no more than a thin powdering of snow so no 'digging out' required.
Now in February it is freezing at night but on some days the sun comes out and when it has warmed the hive sufficiently some bees emerge. I saw some on the grass the other day and checked them for disease but they were collecting dew and happily flew back to the hives. I have seen the odd worker bringing in beige and yellow pollen to the blue hive, indicating that there is brood to feed. The green hive is more in the shade at this time of year and I have seen bees collecting water from the bird-bath but no pollen yet.
I have not joined the Executive of North London Beekeepers' Association which will be interesting and hopefully I can make a useful contribution.
Four of us decided to study for a BBKA Beekeeping theory examination. It is quite a slog. I have learned a lot so do not regret it but there is quite a lot of technical information to memorise which is arduous' especially as different books give conflicting information. If I can scrape a pass in March I will be pleased.
I bought and have constructed my third hive. Theoretically this is a spare so I can move bees and pieces of equipment around. It is not for a third colony as at the height of the season that would be an awful lot of bees for the neighbours to put up with.
Everything is clean and tidy for the new season. All we need now is some warm, sunny weather and then I can do a hive inspection see what mischief has taken place over the winter.