Sunday 3 April 2016

Gatsbees B-Log: Late Winter 2016

While I waited for the bees to go to bed in the mildest winter for years, our local hedgehog, which had clearly been living here for much longer than me, finally made itself known in mid December. By the way, I’m not feeding it baked beans, the tin is my measuring stick so I can judge their size...

and a couple of weeks later her friend came along. How exciting; hedgehogs!

The fox left a gift in their feeding bowl to show it’s appreciation of our efforts.

I was surprised to see honey bees collecting pollen from Viburnum tinus in my garden in January. They rarely do, so maybe they are planted in too much shade for the nectar to flow.

We finally had a flurry of snow, but unfortunately it didn’t stay long enough for me to get to the apiary in Ashley's Field to photograph the hives looking wintery. Sorry!

Hurray! Clear skies at night and freezing cold mornings. The bees have gone to bed at last!

Snowdrops – an early supply of pollen and nectar

On the last check before the bees go to bed, we carefully lift the hive on the two sides, one at a time, to feel the weight of it. This is called hefting and we generally do that once a month to make sure they have enough stores of honey. If it’s getting light, we put some fondant under the roof in direct contact with the bees.

On a warm, sunny afternoon in February, the bees flew out to defecate away from their hive, and clearly one of them got caught short (bottom left hand side). We will have to look out for colonies which have persistant diarrhea as they may have a fungal disease of the gut called Nosema apis.

They also forage for food whenever possible and those running up the front of the hive seem to want to gain some height for take off.

A queen wasp hibernating in the log pile.

Not quite in the ‘other visitors to the hive’ category, but a ground beetle (Pterostichus sp.) living under a piece of wood under one of the hives.

March. ‘ Hurry up, out of my way, pollen to unload, places to go…………’ 

Blackbirds singing, bees buzzing, spring has arrived and very soon, we’ll be looking to see what the girls have been doing all this winter. We will keep you posted. 


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