To feed, or not to feed!

It’s at times like this that I recognise I’m a beginner beekeeper and that there is lots still to learn.

IMG_3137I’m supposed to ‘heft’ the hive and see how
heavy it is, thus judging how much stores are left. If it’s heavy they don’t need feeding, if it’s light they do – easy!

We did this yesterday, and I have no idea! The brood boxes were stuck together to it was impossible to determine the weight of the stores versus the weight of the bees. It just felt heavy!
Bees can die of starvation if they’ve used up all their stores early in the winter. With this unseasonably warm weather it could mean they haven’t needed to use their stores because they’ve been flying and bringing in what they need. Or, it could mean they’ve useIMG_3139d the stores quicker because they’re still producing brood and need to feed the babies. I don’t know!
We decide it’s better safe than sorry and feed the bees some special bee fondant icing. I cut the bag to allow access to the fondant and placed it over the feed hole. Some bees could be spotted venturing up to see what was going on. We put the insulation and lid back in place and secured the ‘woodpecker protection unit’.  All good – or maybe not?

IMG_3140Because it’s a double brood, I don’t know where in the hive the bees are clustered. If they’re clustered, their unlikely to be able to move about the hive and could potentially not reach the fondant. This could results in isolation starvation. That is, there’s food but they’re
isolated from it. Nothing is simple!

So, how do I find out where they’re clustered without opening the hive and chilling them?  How do I get the fondant over the cluster without disturbing them?

IMG_3142I posted my questions on an online forum and I got some helpful advice but I’m still a bit unsure. I think the best thing to do is to go back in a week and see if they’ve taken any fondant. If it’s gone, then they’ve managed to find it and I can put more on. If it’s not gone, then I’ll need to think of another way of doing it. Meanwhile, I’ll put the Varroa monitoring board back which will collect wax capping dropped by the bees.  This will at least give me a bit more information about their location horizontally but, not which brood box.

Fingers crossed that next week the fondant will be goneIMG_3154 and all will be well!

 

 

 

 

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So much for winter!

Usually, not much happens in the winter.  The bees should be nicely clustered to keep warm and the Queen should have stopped laying. They may venture out for a ‘cleansing’ flight but mainly, they just stay inside and wait for the Spring.

However, with this strange weather we’ve been having recently the bees seem rather confused. On the 11th of December, an unseasonably warm day, they were busy flying and one landed with her pollen baskets full!

This seems to be a common theme throughout the country. Confusing times for Beekeepers but I’m sure the bees know what they’re doing!