What are the Honeybees and Beekeepers doing now?
Beekeepers have been preparing their bees for the winter and of course, the bees have just been getting on with it too. Honeybees are different to most bees in that they don’t hibernate, and the workers will cluster together with the queen in the coldest days. There are no drones (male bees) around in the winter, having been massacred in the autumn by the workers (female bees) when the colony has no further use for them.
Daily temperatures are slowly dropping and the days are getting shorter, so there’s less light around! The trees and bushes are losing their leaves and with the notable exception of ivy, the availability of nectar and pollen bearing flowers have massively reduced. Also, the numbers of foraging bees have reduced too, but the bees still come out of the hive on bright days perhaps to collect water or to void themselves of pollen husks.
The beekeepers will have treated their bees for the control of the parasitic varroa mites and checked that their colonies have sufficient stores for the winter. A full-sized colony is likely to need at least 20kg of stores to get through the winter. If there is insufficient honey stored in the honeycomb, then the beekeepers can top-up by feeding with concentrated sugar syrup until later in November and with sugar fondant in the coldest months of December through to March. Hives will be strapped down and mouse guards fitted.
Beekeepers become very conscious of the seasons and the winter is a good time to fettle unused hives and to make up frames for the coming spring. Time to get some good beekeeping books and dream of warm summer days filled with the buzz of insects and the scent of honey and the promise of good crops in the year ahead.