Seasonal Notes by Pauline Walsh

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Seasonal Notes by Pauline Walsh



We have largely prepared the hives for winter now. The following jobs may be necessary if not already done.

  • Ensure the hives are watertight.
  • Make sure there is ventilation at the top of the hive by inserting matchsticks under the corners. This will prevent condensation within the hive.
  • If not already fitted, put insulation under the roof / on top of the crownboard.
  • Make sure the varroa floors are closed to reduce the airflow in the hive.
  • Further reduce the entrance to 40-50mm for the winter.
  • Heft the hives to ensure that there are sufficient stores. By now the ivy nectar and pollen should be coming in and if there is a huge flow it may be necessary to add a super to ensure the queen has space to lay.
  • If the hives are light, be prepared to feed fondant or heavy syrup.
  • This month, the only forage for the bees is usually ivy and gorse.


November and December

  • This is the period when very little needs to be done in the apiary. The hives should not be opened.
  • Periodically heft the hives to ass the stores and feed fondant if necessary and preferably without moving the crownboard by using an eke or empty super if needed.
  • Routinely check the apiary for storm damage, make sure the hives are securely strapped down and weighted if necessary.
  • Observe the entrance for activity. On warm days you will see bees leaving on cleansing flights. If the weather is dry, you may see pollen being brought in, this usually indicates the presence of brood.
  • In late November use a sticky board to ascertain the daily mite drop. This will indicate whether winter treatment is necessary with Apibioxal (oxalic acid is the main ingredient)
  • Attend local Association meetings. Listen to speakers and more experienced beekeepers, and consider studying for one of the IBA exams.
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