Norfolk Beekeepers' Association Jobs For Winter

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Jobs for the month...

November to January (2007)

The months between November and January are the quietest for bees although they may be active gathering water and pollen and on essential cleansing flights on warmer, sunnier days. Bees that are confined to the hive for long periods because of bad weather are at risk of succumbing to dysentery, Nosema and Amoeba diseases.

The beekeeper could have fed Fumidil B as a preventative measure in the autumn feed to avoid these digestive problems, but such treatment is viewed by many experienced beekeepers as bad practice. It is much better to have a breed of bee that doesn't succumb to such problems. If an individual stock does, then it is best disposed of. The same applies to stocks that suffer regularly from Acarine.

Providing the bees are housed in a sound, dry hive, with adequate stores to see them through until March and beyond, have either a mouse guard fitted to the entrance or better still, an entrance block with the correct depth of slot (5/16" or 8mm) with protection from woodpeckers if they are a problem locally, then all should be well. If mouse guards are used they should be fitted around the time of first frosts and removed around the end of February.

Keep an eye on the entrance to the hive. Much more can be learned by observation than by disturbing the bees. Check that no dead bees are blocking the entrance. If in doubt, obtain a piece of wire about 400 mm long and bend it to give a two inch (50mm) 'L' shaped hook on both ends (one end acts as a handle). This should be gently inserted to a depth of 50 - 100 mm. Any dead bees can be scraped out and the entrance kept clear. This may only be required once or twice during this period of quiescence.

The winter period provides a good time to evaluate the requirements for both beekeeper and bees. Plan well ahead - have all supers, queen excluders, feeders etc cleaned and stored away. Ensure adequate brood frames are prepared for that burst of energy from the hive that seems to catch nine out of ten beekeepers out every Spring. Look forward to seeing those first pollen loads going into the hive in February and March, then you know that in less than four to six weeks someone will announce that they have had their first swarm

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