Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Bees come out to play

New year, new climate!
An unfamiliar sight has been blue sky, the sun and the occasional white fluffy cloud.

I'd almost forgotten that we have two colonies of honey bees, but on Friday they came out to enjoy the warm weather.

The girls come out to stretch their wings
This can be a dangerous time of year for them though. For honey bee survival over winter is basically a straightforward energy in / energy out equation. And winter forays, even on a warm, sunny day, yield no food. Better that the hives stand the winter in a virtual state of suspended animation.

Inside the hive, though, a small nucleus of female bees surrounds the queen, constantly circulating to keep the air moving and to take turns at keeping warm. Or so I'm told. For at this time of year it's best to keep the hive lid firmly on so the bees can conserve their heat and energy.

But on Friday the lids did coming off very briefly, just long enough for Sue to place a lump of bee fondant into each to sustain the bees once they have exhausted their stores of honey. This looks like a lump of royal icing and I'm not sure if there is actually any difference. So when the Christmas cake comes out it serves as a good reminder that the time of year is approaching to give the girls - I say girls since all the males will have been ejected from the hive at the end of the last season, surplus to requirements - their winter top-up.
For now it's fingers crossed that our honey bees do well this year and maybe, just maybe, we will get our first ever honey harvest.

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