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Beekeepers Blog - January 2022

Beekeepers Blog - January 2022

The January edition of our 2022 blog. Written by the beekeepers here at Thornes.

This month our priority has been making sure the bees have enough stores to keep them going. We are quite lucky here at Thornes that the bees we look after cluster into a small ball over winter, meaning their overall consumption of food is fairly low. But of course, we check just in case!

We have used HiveAlive fondant for a bit of a change; one thing we like about these packs is that they are nice and slim, so they fit nicely under the roof without needing to use an eke.

Some colonies had eaten all the fondant we gave them last time, so these got another pack to keep them going. Instead of cutting out a large hole by scoring the pack with a big ‘X’ and folding back the plastic like we would normally do, we simply cut out a little hole in the middle to see if this would minimise mess on the crownboard. We also thought it might keep the fondant softer for longer; the packaging seems to prevent it (and other brands) from hardening, which makes it difficult for the bees to take down. Hopefully the bees will still be able to get to all the fondant – it is something to keep an eye on.

This month we have also had to deal with problems that we did not expect for this time of year. You can see from the picture here that we had a slight issue of an entire roof covered in brace comb! As always with beekeeping, these things always arise when you least expect them. At the end of last season, we placed out some spare equipment, just stands, floors, crownboards and roofs, in preparation for next season. Well, after doing a little apiary maintenance this month, we found this roof to be filled with brace comb. We think it must have housed a small, late swarm of bees at the end of last season! The wild comb is an amazing sight, however, an extra job to clear up. At least it wasn’t full of honey or bees – that really is a messy task!

Aside from other winter clear up jobs, it has been reassuring to see the first signs of life this year out in the apiaries. Normally we see crocuses and snowdrops first off but this year the catkins are growing gloriously from the Hazel trees and will hopefully provide some early pollen for our bees, going into February.

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