I spoke to Bob Spruce at the opening of the Waveney Beekeepers Group Training Apiary at the weekend ( a facility for training new beekeepers and raising new bees) and his top tip for preparing for winter was feed, feed, feed (and check them early in Spring).
So today was Bee Feeding Day. Up until now I have only prepared light ‘summer-weight’ syrup, but for autumn feeding the bees are given a heavy syrup to bulk out their stores. They are quite different, like comparing a golden ale and a chocolate stout. It was heavy indeed – the spoon wasn’t quite standing up in it, but there was a fair old resistance when stirring. I followed the quantities of sugar and water given in Ted Hoopers book and couldn’t get the syrup to clear past a suspension, so had to add a little more water – I’m sure the bees will manage it.
All was going well, docile bees and enough feeders for each hive, until the very last one, when a gap between my trousers and smock developed. It didn’t take long for the bees to find their access point and I felt the now familiar fluttery buzz against my skin. At this point many thoughts jostled for space in my mind; poor little bees stuck in my clothing; will I get stung? how can I get them out? how many exactly are in there? which ones will sting me? where exactly are they? how long have I got before I get stung? what can I take off without making myself totally vulnerable to all the other flying bees? These questions were cut off relatively quickly by a sting on the arm followed by one on the back. I didn’t manage to get the sting out straight away so that one is the most sore. Luckily I don’t appear to react too badly. One other bee managed a lucky escape as I stripped the smock off, good job too or I would have sat on it as I got into the car….