As promised in my last post I wanted to give an update on the current state of my hives and some news about my honey.
The first news is that the Cawthorne Local Village Shop is now stocking my Yorkshirebees softset honey in both 1 lb and 1/2 lb jars!
The shop is run by a very friendly family and as well as essentials they are trying to source and stock as much local produce as possible. I will support them as I really hate that a lot of smaller shops have been closed down due to the massive supermarkets!
Onto the bees. I am pleased to say that the hive that had been blown over in early February was still alive as of last weekend!
In fact when I did my rounds, checking all the hives were upright and that they all had Neopol left, it was a brilliant sunny / blue sky day with almost no wind and above 10 degs. Celsius!
Most of the hives were busy with bees making orientation flights and gathering water and pollen (from crocus and snow-drops).
The not so good news is that when I said ‘most of the hives were busy’ there was one that had no bee traffic going in or coming out. After investigation I found that I had lost my 3rd hive of the winter. Two of the losses were due to starvation probably due to them not storing enough honey / syrup feed in the Autumn, and the third hive appears to have lost ‘critical’ mass. That is to say that for some reason the Queen has not been producing new bees and as the old ones died off they lost the minimum number to survive. Although the loss, over winter, of any colony of bees is sad, with 14 hives going into winter I was not totally surprised to have lost a few.
Winter is by no means over yet with more cold weather and potential for snow ahead so it’s a very important time to try ensure that bees still have enough stores to feed on.
I am currently checking the Neopol (fondant mixed with pollen) every weekend. This involves only the removal of the roof as I use plastic (take-away food) containers with the Neopol inside on top of the crown board above a feeding hole, Then a sheet of insulation (with suitable hole cut from the centre) surrounds the container with the roof over this.
I can remove the roof and check visually if they still have Neopol left and then replace the roof in less than a minute. This reduces any heat lost from the hive and does not disturb the bees in this critical time of the year.
With the great weather conditions last weekend it allowed me to take a few photos of bees that were probably raised from an egg laid in January or early February.
You can tell it is a new (2013) bee as it looks so hairy (fluffy).
Below is another closeup, this time a bee had landed on the cuff of my glove and I took the photo with my left hand!
You can really see the shape of the hairs on the rear leg where the pollen ‘basket’ is (collected pollen is stored here for transport).
The other bit of news is that one of my out apiaries is in a field that is planted, this year, with Oil Seed Rape (OSR). So the bees in the hives there will certainly not have far to travel!
Finally for this post another photo, again of a bee on the hive roof, This time it’s wings are raised allowing the intricate detail of the wing to be seen.
I just find bees fascinating!