Well, the winter is hopefully drawing to a close. Have we got over the worst of it now? I have seen crocus flowers in Fishers Field, I think the young hazels are already supplying early pollen for the bees, and there have been some really pleasant sunny periods.
You will be pleased to learn that all three Fishers Field hives came through the winter. On those occasional sunny days we have been having, many bees have been tempted out of their cosy hives to see what they have been missing, and to use the opportunity to void their personal waste – they are very hygienic insects and would never dream of soiling the inside of the hive. Nevertheless this activity is only evidence that the colonies are alive. It does not show how healthy the bees are, what conditions are like inside the hive, what numbers remain and whether the queens have survived and are laying eggs for the next generation. The bees that can be seen now are the six month old winter bees. They have done little foraging and instead have conserved their strength to help the colony survive together through to the beginning of spring when the new bees can take over foraging duties.
You may remember that everything possible was done to prepare the bees for the rigours of the harsher weather. Since then they have been fed occasionally with fondant which looks and tastes like the white icing on top of a sticky bun! The weather is still far too cold to open the hives for their very important first detailed examination – The Spring Inspection. No doubt I will have more to say about that in my next report.
I am more than grateful for the clearing of the undergrowth the encroaching on the apiary fencing, carried out by the Council contractors in the autumn. There is now much more light and ventilation all around the apiary cage. I have had to move the little nucleus hive out to other premises as the cage itself felt crowded. I look forward to a time when the Committee is able to extend the apiary as we have discussed in order to accommodate further hives.
Best wishes to you all