The bees are certainly not as busy now it has turned cooler, darker and wetter. They still have a bit of honey left to dry, before capping with wax. They need to reduce the water content to prevent it from fermenting. This is done from the natural heat from the brood, which is maintained around 35°C. The colony populations is much reduced, partly because all the drones (males) will have been evicted (or killed) as they serve no purpose to the colony, just a drain on resources. For those of you who remember that drones don’t do any work and sometimes even get fed – this is payback time!
Although bees don’t hibernate or sleep they do go into a ‘Winter’ mode, where they are less active and their metabolism is reduced. In this state they eat less and live longer, between five to six months. This is as many weeks during the summer. The queen will also be wintering, laying fewer eggs and saving energy. My final colony maintenance for the year will be next weekend (weather permitting) where I will remove the Veroa treatment and redistribute honey from the best stocked colony to the worst. I will also put on mouse guards which simply reduces the size of the entrance so that mice and other pests can’t get in. It will also help the bees keep warm and defend their home and honey. Bees will rob honey from one another, especially when they smell their own honey in another colony.
This will be my last article for the year. I hope to start again next March. If anyone would like more information or advice about starting beekeeping please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.
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