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Beekeepers Blog - December 2023

Beekeepers Blog - December 2023

The December edition of our 2023 blog. Written by the beekeepers here at Thornes.

December can be a bit of a variable month in terms of jobs to do in the apiary. This is partly down to how much we have got done in November, (which this year was plenty!) and then of course it comes down to the weather.

This month has been rather wet and windy here at Rand, both of which bees do not enjoy! It has made walking around the apiary a bit sludgy, as you can see from the sodden ground in the picture here: Unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do about that but there are other things we can do to help get our little friends through the winter months.


December Blog

One of these is to heft the hives. Hefting is the term we give to lifting the hive from various sides to determine how much food we think the bees have left. If it is light, we will more than likely feed them and if not, we’ll leave them until our next visit. If a hive is incredibly light, we may take a quick peek inside just to check that the bees are still there; there is no point feeding something that has already perished. Hefting is something that we actually do a lot of year-round as it gives us a more accurate idea of how heavy a hive can and should be. There is not much point in hefting hives solely in winter as we would have nothing to compare the weight to. Obviously, considerations have to be made for the difference in number of bees, brood etc. in December compared with in May for example.

Another check we do at this time of year is to look for any signs of mouse damage. These little guys are very cute but unwanted inside our hives! From past experience they can really do a lot of damage to the internal components of a hive, particularly frames which they will chew huge holes through. They can also sometimes make their way into the roof space – how they do this I do not know! Obviously at this time of year they are just looking for somewhere warm to curl up and the inside of a beehive is the perfect spot, however, your bees and your hive will not thank you for letting them live there. So, this month we just double checked in the roof space of each hive and had a quick look around the outside too for droppings, nibble marks and of course, tiny little nests! Thankfully, nothing to report just yet but I am aware we are nowhere near the end of winter yet.

Last month we mentioned about doing oxalic acid treatment, however, the temperatures here did not stay low enough for what we would consider viable, so we have postponed this slightly to make sure that when we do it, we are getting the best results possible i.e. the biggest mite drop we can going into spring. Next month I imagine will be much the same, however the turn of the year always makes us feel like spring is just around the corner and we start feeling the pressure to get everything ship shape for the oncoming season!

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