As luck would have it everything came together for a perfect bee-keeping day. After the downpours and chills of the last couple of weeks I was beginning to wonder if we would ever get to sort the hives out for the winter. We needed to transfer the smallest colony to a nuc box – easier for them to keep warm – but didn’t want to chill any late brood. Nurse bees keep the brood at a constant 33-36 degrees, whatever the outside temperature. Chilling brood can cause deformity so we didn’t want to transfer frames of larvae and pupae unless the temperature was 16 degrees or above (comfortable in short sleeves).
In order to give the bees the best chance over winter we needed to eliminate any extra space in the hives (as it means extra work for the bees to keep warm), check that a laying Queen was in residence and that there are adequate stores of pollen, nectar and honey.
The three hives at Barsham were all in pretty good shape, both brood and stores were in evidence, with no funny smells (after my worry about a bad smell in one the other day). However, I think I need to give some more sugar syrup tomorrow. We had to leave the 2 brood-and-a-half hives as they were, although we managed to reduce the double brood hive (from 2 united hives) to a single brood box. We also checked the varroa monitoring floors and found several dead mites – Apiguard has certainly had the desired effect.
By the time we reached Flixton the sun was warming our backs and bees were busy going in and out of their hive entrances; in memory, cows were lowing, birds were singing and crickets were chirruping. All very bucolic and probably not strictly accurate, the spirit of the setting remains though. The bees were happy enough, but we are still concerned about the 2 small colonies, one will have a dummy board put in to reduce internal hive area and the other was transferred to a nuc box (approximately half the size of a brood box).
After shaking the remaining bees into the nuc box we needed to let them settle before putting the entrance block in. It was a good opportunity to sort the hive parts and equipment out – but my bee-partner got a little carried away and stripped his suit off. No surprise then that he got stung, although getting stung inside the nose is a little harsh! I do have to own up here to receiving a few stings myself earlier in the day, but through the thickest trousers I own. What else could I do? Yeah, yeah, buy a suit….. I know.