You and I may not enjoy the recent cold weather but it is certainly good for our bees.
When it is cold, really cold, they huddle together in the centre of the brood box surrounding the queen. The survival of the colony depends on her survival and the bees "know" it. They will keep the queen warm. They do this by vibrating their wing muscles to generate heat. Bees on the edge of the cluster will be feeling the cold and they move in towards the centre of the cluster forcing other bees to the edge. By constantly changing places all the bees stay at a survivable temperature and the queen is kept warm.
But why isn't warm weather better? Well if it is warmer some of the workers may be tempted to emerge from the hive to seek food. At this time of year the only food around is the honey stores in the hive and any blocks of fondant you have placed above the frames.
Chances are that any bee seeking food outside the hive will perish from cold or hunger before they can get back to the warmth of the hive. That is then one less bee to keep the queen warm.
So I hope you can see that at this time of year a crisp cold winter is what we want for our bees - even if it is not what will help our heating bills.
So what is coming up for us? Well I have been a bit quiet recently - well as far as you are concerned. In the last month I have made several trips to North Wales - and not one of them was for pleasure. There was snow on the tops and I would have loved to be up there. Alas I was far too busy.
Now I am back in Dorset and pleased to say that I have a bit more time to myself. As a result I have just added another page to the BeeInfo area of the Dorset Beekeepers website. The new page is about allotments and putting your bees there. I thought it would be simple - check with the allotment manager and if OK move the hive up there.
In some cases this may be the case but not always. Have a read of the page to see the pitfalls.