02 Nov Starting the Winter close-down
Even though it was a fairly pleasant afternoon today, in between the showers the temperature has dipped back to a more normal level.
Any foraging activity around the apiary was limited to Ronaldo and his hens, as the bees stayed indoors.
So, I thought I would start the Winter shut-down – probably better than watching today’s drab Mancunian derby on Sky Sports…
This past 6 weeks or so has seen productive ivy foraging, which has hopefully allowed the bees to store enough extra honey and pollen for their Winter brood to survive.
However, I like to add in an emergency supply of fondant to all of my hives – just to make sure my investment in the bees has it’s best chance of working,
Fondant is a perfect emergency ration as there is no risk of it fermenting and it can sit on top of the brood box as a “just-in-case” top-up before the snowdrops come up.
I pack it into an old yoghurt tub to stop it drying out, cut a hole in the base to allow the bees to get at it, and the transparent lid allows me to see if/when it is getting low.
We have loads of old Total Greek yoghurt tubs which I keep for this job.
By the way – imho, this is the BEST way to eat Goodwood Honey. Full fat of course – cos the 2% fat one is a waste of time.
A bowl of yoghurt and drizzle the honey all over it. The sour of the yoghurt is balanced and complimented by the luuuush sweetness of the honey and seems to bring out all the subtleties of the taste.
The last job of the day was to add extra insulation to my wooden hives. (The PolyHives are great as they are)
I use a square of Kingspan wrapped in bubble-wrap. The bubble-wrap makes the fit snug and keeps the bees away from the insulation itself.
This then sits on top of the tub of fondant. I have fixed a little tab on the insulation so I can lift it out easily for a quick check on the fondant and brood nest.
I will not inspect the brood now – until next Spring.
The bees will have started to configure their hibernation pattern within the nest and filled all the draughty air gaps with a mix of wax and propolis – a red/brown sticky glue-like substance made by the bees.
Any disturbance now is pointless as any problems found will not be fixable before the Winter sets in.
So its batten down the hatches, emergency fondant supply and …. look forward to seeing an emerging cloud of bees when the sun shines and snowdrops and crocuses are in flower.