Although the honeybees at our Rough Close Works site in Derbyshire do not hibernate over winter, they are relatively inactive. Our resident beekeeper Andrew Bailey has still been visiting the hives over December and January to ensure that while the colonies are quiet all is well. Here’s an update on how he’s been getting on:

Winter success so far

Although December and January can prove to be quiet times for beekeepers, I’ve still been making swift, but important visits to the EPC apiary. I’ve found that two colonies have needed more fondant, however potentially all six of the hives we currently have on site look to be successfully coming through the winter (so far).

Keeping food supplies constant

It is essential to ensure that each hive has enough stores on board to prevent the bees from starving. Having said that, in the past I have still had colonies die out with isolation starvation. The food has been there for them, sometimes inches away, however they just haven’t moved to it. This can sometimes be because of the weather.

Mild weather conditions

Many of our winter days so far have been very mild for the time of year. When winter temperatures rise above 10°c and conditions are dry, bees will be flying and looking for forage. Of course, this time of year there is nothing for them, so they will be using up their energy and whatever stores they have in order to stay alive.

Longer days, more eggs

In addition we have now gone past the Winter Solstice, so even though it’s almost imperceptible for us, the bees sense this slight lengthening of the day and very soon the queen will start to lay a few more eggs each day – making it even more important to ensure the hives have sufficient stores.

It’s my intention to make that the case! Let’s hope that things continue in a positive way and that we get all the colonies through the winter and into spring.

Until next time.
Best regards
Andy Bailey