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Well we are almost into February and many of us are wondering how our bees have fared over the winter. Now is not the time to find out!

Having had some cold spells it may now feel a lot warmer to you. Perhaps you are even used to the cold as you have not put the heating on for the last two weeks. However it is not warm enough yet to open the hive. it is recommended that a hive is not opened fully unless the air temperature is at least 13C - and it is certainly not there yet.

What can you do now? Well if the day is sunny why not go and see what the bees are up to. Are they just going out on cleansing flights?

For those not aware of cleansing flights they are the equivalent of being snug in bed and realising that you need to go to the loo - but it is just too cold to get out of bed. Well bees are similar. They keep the hive at no less than 5C and the queen is in the middle of the cluster at nearer 30C. Very snug.

Bees can clench their bottoms and go many weeks without leaving the hive in the cold weather. When it does get warm enough to leave the hive they go out on "cleansing flights" and after several weeks in the hive this must be the comfort break to end all comfort breaks!

Those same flights may also give the bees an opportunity to remove dead bees from the hive as well as any other rubbish which has accumulated over the winter.

If you see cleansing flights happening you can be optimistic that the colony is in good order. You may even see pollen being brought in - another good sign.

If there is no movement then assume the worst but do nothing. I have heard of beekeepers who knock on the hive to see if they can hear movement. Do not do this. It takes a lot of energy for a cluster of bees to make a sound you can hear. At this time of year they do not have that energy to spare.

What you can do is heft the hive. Does it feel as if it is the right weight? If not perhaps add some fondant but disturb the hive as little as possible.

So if you cannot yet open the hive then what can you look forward to?


Wednesday 15th February - Social at the Colliton Club 7:00pm to 9:00 pm. Just come along and chat.

Saturday 11th March Dorset County AGM at Colliton Club at 2:00pm - with a speaker.

Friday 21st April to Sunday 23rd April BBKA Spring Convention in Shropshire

Sunday 4th June - Thomas Hardy Street Fair - always looking for volunteers to help.

Saturday 15th July - Beefest - watch this space.

Saturday 2nd September to Sunday 3rd September - Dorset County Show.

Well I hope that has given you something to look forward to.

Well what a lot is planned for the new year.

13th May : Jurassic Coast Wild Exhibition at Weymouth College Sports Hall. It is about Ants mainly but as beekeepers anything in the insect world is probably of interest.

4th June : Thomas Hardy Fair. Always an interesting day in Dorchester. Come along and see us Skep making - we may even finish the one we started last year!

15th July : BeeFest in Poundbury. A fun event. Watch this space and their website for more details.

July some time : Warmwell Village Fete.

August some time : Sunflower trail

September 2nd-3rd : Dorset County Show including the Honey Show

Watch this space for further updates.

We have a "For Sale" page which has proved very successful. In fact it is so successful the item which I advertised yesterday has already gone! Perhaps this can act as a reminder. Now is a good time to go through all your equipment, clean it and see what you still need. This is an ideal opportunity to sort it all out and what you do not need can be moved on to someone who does need it.

Whilst I have your attention a reminder of the honey survey. In an attempt to get a fuller picture based on facts rather than hearsay the BBKA is conducting a survey on honey yields. The survey is available from this link. it is available from now to the 25th October. Do respond. It also asks a couple of questions on training requirements. If you are still extracting then you still have a month to do the survey.

Even more whilst I have your attention do not forget that membership renewals are now due. The form is here from where it can be easily downloaded and processed. For those who prefer pdf format that is available here.

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