Danger !! Bees could starve
Just had a lovely long weekend in Florence. Lot colder than we were expecting and in some places frightingly expensive. €8 for a coffee ahhhhhhhhhhh!! Saw plenty of local honey in the market, plus some unusual mixes. Honey and Balsamic vinegar, Honey and Chillies and Honey and Truffles. Had a taste of each, but honestly I felt why would you want to ruin the taste of honey, balsamic and truffles by mixing them together. All taste good on their own.
DANGER !! BEES COULD STARVE – I’m Not Joking !!
Usually I give my bees a present of Fondant at Christmas time and this year it is going to be even more vital. We have had a very warm autumn and my bees were still bringing in pollen up til last week.
This means the Queen has still been laying and there is brood in the hive. Foraging bees eat more than when clustered together for winter. Though they have also been bringing in nectar, this supply is not enough to replace their stores and they have probably been eating more than they have brought in. Weekly hefting of your hives is very important, to check the weight of stores. Feed them fondant if you feel the hive is light. As with all feeding it is better to give them it than not to. They will only feed off it if they require it.
Another problem with late foraging and with brood in the hive, is that any varroe mite will have the larvae to lay in. I treated my hives for varroa during September, so it has been some weeks for the surviving varroa to expand. It is too late now to treat with Apiguard or similar thymol-based treatment. Probably good idea if we get a dry week, to put mite boards under the hives for a few days, so you can see for dead mite drop. If you see plenty of dead mite you may well need to treat with Oxalic acid around Christmas time/early January – You can only treat with Oxalic acid when there is no brood in the hive. If you want or need to treat earlier you can with “Hive Clean” which you can get from beekeeping suppliers.