Today it was 9 degrees Centigrade at 14.00 when I visited the bees for a mid-winter inspection. It was a lot warmer than the sub-zero temperatures we have have had for the past few weeks. One night we recorded -11 degrees Centigrade – the lowest temperature for about 19 years. Climate change perhaps. In any case, the bees called.
I was surprise that all six hives were still populated. On last year’s performance, I expected us to be down to five by now. Three hives had good food stocks. Three needed a bit of additional honey. Luckily we decided in August to keep all our honey for the bees – and not take it off – so I had one super full of honey left to give back to them. Somehow giving bees honey rather than feeding them syrup or candy felt much better – even if it meant that we have not had any honey from them this year.
Hawkhurst was the weakest – so she got four frames. This is the hive that I thought might have not managed the over-wintering. She is still weak – but the good news is that the queen was laying in August…..so there is hope that it will survive and prosper if we get a reasonable spring.
Harmony was also quite low – and got another four of the frames. She did not take enough feed in September – so will benefit from the extra stores.
Joy, Faith, and Prior’s Heath were all fine.
The one that surprised me was Grace (all blue hive). Although she had more than sufficient stores, she was the victim of raiding in the Autumn. She got two frames….but will need keeping an eye on as she is probably the most vulnerable. I am not sure how the bees decide which colony is worth raiding – but I don’t particularly want all the good honey being raided – even if it makes other hives stronger.
A good afternoon’s work. And so encouraging after last winter’s visits to good old Faith!
This intervention should be sufficient to get over the next six weeks.
In line with my naming convention, the swarms that over-winter get renamed as one of the virtues – so from now on:
Hawkhurst becomes Trust and Prior’s Heath becomes Patience.
So we now have, in order from left to right: Trust, Harmony, Joy, Faith, Grace & Patience which I think are a nice set of virtues for the start of 2009.
I wish all readers a happy and virtuous New Year to weather the uncertain times ahead!