We have had our last session of the season. All the hives have been closed up with a super full of honey under the brood box for winter feeding and a varroa treatment applied and mouse-guards fitted. Although members will not be visiting until the spring the Apiary Manager will keep an eye on the hives and take any winter action necessary.
I was prepared to kill the un-mated queen in hive 1/3 but when we found her she was large and was laying eggs .............. she may not have been properly mated as there are so few drones about and so she my not be a strong queen, but if she gets the colony through the winter then we can review the situation in the spring.
Hackney Garden Bees
Like the Kenwood bees I have done a full check on the health of my bees and made sure that at this point they have sufficient stores to get them through the winter. Syrup feeder and queen excluder have been removed and the mouse-guard added. This makes the entrance a bit small but then there is less to defend and as the colony reduces down and the weather gets colder and wetter the flying bees will not want to go out so much.
I will not open the hive again until the spring but I will gently lift it to see that there are sufficient fod stores available. I need to think about storm cabling so that I have a plan ready to put in place as there is no point in running about in the height of the storm trying to find ways to stop the hive being blown around the garden!
I have put Danish oil preservative on the outside of the hive to protect the wood - except on the landing board, for obvious reasons. In the early spring I will assemble hive no 2, proof it with oil and then move the bees into it in their current position. It will be a good opportunity to finally remove the old dirty brood frames that the queen loves so much but that I want to get rid of. I have removed two but want to take out the other three. I will then put two full sized clean ones in and one 'refurbished' short ones which I will keep for 'sacrificial brood' ie varroa inspection of drone brood.
Let us hope for a fairly dry winter for the bees with a couple of frosty spells to kill off any lurking wax moths!
I have been bottling the honey bit by bit but now need to finish this task and store the large settling tank as it is getting in the way in the kitchen. I sold ten jars to the local Deli for £5.00 all beautifully packaged as I thought the price was quite high.
Bee Trivia no 8