Winter is not over!

Photo by jasper guy on Unsplash

No the picture is not me on the way to my apiary but who knows what weather the  next month will bring.
There are indications that we could be in for a spell of very severe weather later this month and into next. This could mean it gets very cold and it could mean we have a lot of snow.
None of this is certain which is why it is not yet on the Met Office site. If this were simply “Arctic Blast To Paralyse Britain” on one of the red top papers then I would not be concerned but this story seems to have a much more scientific basis.
If you want a far fuller explanation ask Google to find articles on “Sudden Stratospheric Warming 2021”.

So what can we do? 
By now you should have your hives strapped down and secure. In addition you should have made certain that there is enough fondant for them. This is a good time to check the fondant as the temperature is just a bit warmer. However do not disturb your bees any more than you need to.  Every time they are disturbed the cluster is upset and it takes a lot of energy to wake the guard bees and then reform the cluster. If they do need more fondant the recipes for are here.

If we get heavy snow then the entrance to the hive may become blocked. Running on a mesh floor this is not a problem as there will plenty of ventilation to let carbon dioxide out and oxygen in. If it is really cold the bees need for ventilation is considerably reduced as they are so inactive. 

In previous years I have made certain that the hive entrance is clear of snow but this year I won’t bother. There is a risk that bees will see the bright light reflected off the snow outside and mistakenly assume it is spring and the sun ins shining. A trip out for a cleansing flight under these conditions could well be their last. If you leave the snow blocking the entrance then only when it has melted will they be able to leave the hive – and then they might not want to.

Hopefully the winter will not be that bad but it is as well to be prepared. Much easier to get out there and check your bees before we get any snow.

Whilst you are here can I draw your attention to a recent government announcement on neonicotinoids.

If you are looking for Zoom lectures to watch then I will draw your attention to our “Diary Dates” page

2021 and looking forward!

I have caught up with myself after having my attention somewhat diverted. Now is the time to look forward to the new year and all that it may bring.


Last year I seemed to spend months just writing about events that were cancelled. Not a week went by without me having to put lines through events. I enjoy keeping bees as much for the social aspects of beekeeping as for the fascination of how the bees organise themselves. To have no events to attend was a little disheartening.

However I have since taken on the Zoom culture and am enjoying it.  No longer restricted to meetings in the South West of the UK I can now “travel”  all over the country -and further afield if I so wish.

Below is a list of lectures from Somerset and Cambridge.  In addition there are many lectures by BIBBA – in fact too many for me to list here! I suggest you have a look and book your place on some. We may be locked down but we need not be locked out.

January 2021
Thursday January 7th at 7:00pm
Somerset Beekeepers have a lecture by Jo Widdicombe on “Black Bees – our past or our future?” Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Wednesday January 13th at 7:00pm 
Cambridgeshire Beekeepers Association have a talk on “Honeybee Form and Function” by Dr Jamie Ellis . Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Tuesday 19th January at 7:30pm
Bedordshire Beekeepers Association have a talk on “Chronic Bee Paralysis” by Theodora Commandeur. Tickets are available at Eventbrite.

Wednesday January 27th at 7:00pm
Cambridgeshire Beekeepers Association have a talk on “Bees and Beeswax- the gold of the medieval world” by Dr Alex Sapoznik . Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

February 2021 
Wednesday February 10th at 7:00pm
Cambridgeshire Beekeepers have a lecture on “Diagnosing Queen Problems”  by Dr David Tarpy. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

Saturday February 13th at 7:00pm
Somerset Beekeepers have a lecture by Tom Seeley on “Darwinian Beekeeping”.  Tickets are available on Eventbrite.

Monday February 15th at 7:00pm
Beecraft and the Central Association of Beekeepers are hosting two lectures on Honey Sources and Pollination Improvements. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

Wednesday February 24th at 7:00pm
Cambridgeshire Beekeepers have a lecture on “Preparing for the beekeeping year ahead”  by Stewart  Spinks of the Norfolk Honey Company. Tickets available at Eventbrite.

Big Bee Rescue

If you missed the Big Bee Rescue with Jimmy Doherty then I suggest you catch up with it. It was on Channel 4 on Saturday night but is now available on the Channel 4 app. Last night’s episode was the first of two and it will certainly be interesting to see how successful the experiment is.

For those inspired to start keeping bees or for those wanting to expand their colonies there is an excellent opportunity to purchase some equipment an very reasonable prices. It is being sold by Andy as he is moving to France. he suspects the bees would take one look at a British National Hive and say a definite “Non”. For this reason he is selling his equipment ready to start again in France. For more details go to our For Sale page.

August Tasks

Been a busy few weeks but I have added the August tasks. In summary August tasks include:

  • Get extraction kit out of the cupboard.
  • Get the honey out of the supers.
  • Decide on Varroa treatment.
  • Take precautions to prevent robbing – from wasps!
  • Check for Nosema.

So far this year has been quiet as regards the Asian Hornet but that does not mean we do not have a problem. If there are any Asian Hornets around now then they are from established nests and it is even more important that we find the nests and have them destroyed.

At this time of year we may well be in the hedges picking blackberries and next month we may be picking sloes. Our experience so far has led us to assume that the secondary nests of the Asian Hornet are some 10 metres up the tree – but there are exceptions. Keep your eyes open when picking fruit and if you see an Asian Hornet get a photograph – preferably on the Asian Hornet App on your phone – and report it. Whatever you do you must not annoy it. That can alert a nest full of Asian Hornets and the consequences can be serious.