Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Bring out your dead!
Today is the first mild day in January - about 10C. It's sunny and calm. So I thought the bees might be active, and they were.
I was worried that the cold weather had killed them off. But I needn't have worried. As my beekeeping friend Brian said "It's the best thing for them. They form a ball in the middle of the hive and don't use any energy. The worse thing is mild weather - which encourages them to fly and use energy, which they then replenish by eating their stores."
The dead bees on the landing board (in photo) have been brought out of the hive by the worker bees and, well, dumped on the landing board. I'll scrape them off when the bees have packed it in for the day.
I opened the hive and removed the empty Apistan container (the Verroa treatment). The hive was completely full of bees. I need not have worried.
But I made the mistake of not using smoke to pacify them. They were CROSS and many attacked me. I made another (maybe) mistake by not wearing my overalls. I wore a black fleece jacket and they really went for it. It's outside the back door now, covered in bee stings. Of course, that's the end of the bees that did the stinging, so I'm feeling bad about that mistake.
They might have attacked me for a number of reasons, but they are docile colony normally. Reason one: I didn't use smoke. Reason two: it's cold and they were not keen on being opened up. Reason three: they are not busy gathering nectar, so had nothing better to do. Reason four: they didn't like my black fleece.
Anyway, I gave them some Apifonda - which is sugar, rather like pre-mixed cake icing. You pierce the 1000g bag and place it - holes down - on top of the frames. So that's will keep them fed for a good few weeks.
I didn't pull out any of the frames for fear of chilling the brood - if there was any - which I doubt.
So that's it for a month or so.
A few mistakes made and lessons learned.