Beekeeping tips for January

So far, here in the south, the winter has been unusually mild with daffodils in bloom in early December, and blackthorn blossom appearing in some places as well. Under these circumstances, complacency becomes the 

easiest skill to acquire, but in truth this spells danger for our bees, as I have mentioned before, and as the warm winter progresses, the problem gets worse. At a temperature above 12ᵒC the bees will leave the hive on scouting trips, convinced that there is food out there for them, and the appearance of those daffodils and the odd parch of blackthorn blossom only exacerbates the problem. Maybe a worker bee will return with some
pollen, and that will prompt many others to go out looking for more. The problem comes when they don’t find any. They will have used precious energy flying around in circles and return to the hive exhausted and hungry. They will head straight to the stored food and fill their boots, but it’s one way traffic – all withdrawals and no deposits.

A cold winter is much better for the inmates of the hive, as they don’t go out looking for food that isn’t there, and resultantly, they use less energy, and in turn, consume less food. This warm weather could spell disaster if you don’t keep an eye on the amount of food consumption. I have talked all about the use of fondant, and it acts as a monitor of food consumption. If fondant is placed on the hive and not eaten, then in all probability, the hive is functioning well, but keep checking. So far this winter I have used twice as much sugar to feed my bees as I took from them in honey.

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