Tucking up the Bees for Winter
Putting the Bees to bed! Last week we finally tucked the bees up for the winter. We’ve been a bit hesitant this year, it’s been a difficult call, because it’s not really that cold and yet we are about to start November; but it’s late enough, and it’s time to open the hive for the last time this year. Stepping inside the Bee shed I breathe in all the gorgeous happy smells, and I can feel my shoulders relax. It has the smell of beeswax and the smoker and … I don’t know that shed smell that every shed has. I feel a bit melancholic as I pull on my suit for the last time this year. I’ll miss visiting the bees. So, we’ve picked a day that’s not rainy, and relatively warm. The temperature is important because I want to have a quick check on their stores, this can be done by lifting the hives (hefting) in a ‘guessing the weight of the cake’ sort of exercise but I’m a nosy beekeeper and it is really warm for the time of year so it’s safe to have a really quick peek. But it does need to be really quick, because letting cold air in to the hive and chilling those girls is not a good plan. I have an idea from previous checks, but the girls can get through a lot of honey if it's wet or there’s not much forage so it’s good to know what they are going into the winter with. The bees need more than you might think: each hive needs at least 20kg of honey stores, but it’s not all about the honey the bees will have feasted on pollen in the autumn too, and stored it. This acts as a great energy reserve for them over the winter months. Happy with the reserves, it’s time for the usual but speedier clean up: tidying wax that the girls have put in awkward places and cleaning off the sticky propolis. Then it’s a question of saying “Thank you” and “Happy Solstice” to each and every Bee before closing the hives for the last time before next spring. If you would like to read some interesting articles on the ‘Hibernation of bees’ please visit the following links: https://beehivehero.com/do-bees- https://www.terminix.com/blog/education/can-honey-bees-survive-winter/