So this weeks post will only be short but I think it’s an important question to answer as it’s one that I’ve been asked quite a few times recently. It’s not just none beekeepers asking this question as well many beekeepers are asking themselves this same question, I know I certainly was!
So firstly to dispel a little beekeeping myth, I often get asked ‘has the warm weather woken your bees up?’. Well technically no, because honey bees don’t sleep! Unlike other species of bees, honey bees don’t hibernate at all. The reason honey bees produce honey to store food that won’t go off for them to eat throughout the winter.
Although bees don’t sleep or hibernate they are much less active during the winter, the cold weather means they can’t fly and to preserve food and allow the hive to be kept cooler the queen ceases or reduces egg laying so there are no young bees in the hive. The warm weather we had during February allowed the bees to go out foraging for pollen on the snowdrops and crocus much earlier than usual which is a good thing as pollen is needed to feed young bees. The sudden warm temperature also prompted the queen to start laying at a much faster rate.
So why could this be a problem? Well active bees and brood rearing uses up lots of energy and in turn food. The main concern is that the bees could run out of food before the spring flowers come out. To get around this we’ve added extra feed to some of the most active hives, the food, which is basically a bakers fondant (Pure sugar). The fondant is put inside a plastic bag to stop it from drying out and going hard. We cut a small hole in the underside of the bag and the bees crawl up through a whole in the roof of the hive to get to the fondant.
So when can we stop worrying? Well when the Oil Seed Rape comes out and the temperature is warm enough for the bees to fly they will produce lots of honey, up to 10kg a week in the right conditions! This week I’m going to set up the apiary site next to the oil seed rape and hopefully get all the hives moved next weekend so they are ready for the crop to start flowering.
Thank you for reading this short post, hopefully you’ll have more of an idea about the impact this mild winter has had on our bees and what we are trying to do to keep them as healthy as possible.
Don’t forget Mothering Sunday is on the 31st March, we have loads of great gifts from things for the home and garden as well as our hugely popular beekeeping experiences. Remember if you live within 5 miles of us and spend more than £10 you get free delivery and even if you don’t we have really competitive postage prices! Take a look at all our products here – Shop