The clocks have gone back. The days are getting shorter. The nights longer. The leaves which were once so stunning in all their autumn glory are now carpeting the ground with their slippery splendour. Winter is nearly upon us. Oh joy of joys ?
As we crank up the central heating, crave carbs and button up our winter coats, what do the bees do?
They don’t much like the cold and damp. Let’s face it, who does.
Don’t we all feel like hibernating and eating hot buttered toast once the curtains are drawn … or is that just me? Well it’s the same for the bees … apart from the toast, although there is such a thing as bee bread. The bees can’t venture out if it’s below 12 degrees. Imagine that. Stuck indoors all that time.
Their food supplies have died off. They rely entirely on the stores of honey and pollen they’ve built up during the spring and summer. Imagine that. If it’s a long winter (like last year) they could run out. Even starve. Not on our watch!
We’ve been feeding our girls with sugar syrup for weeks to supplement their stores. They’re not greedy. As soon as they’ve got enough, they stop taking the syrup from their special feeders. However it’s now time to shut up the hives until spring. Cold and damp does not a happy honey bee make!
Today was Tuck Them Up Sunday. As an extra precaution against starvation, each hive has had a nice cake of our home made bee fondant. It’s been like Willy Wonka’s (more like Buzzy Bonkers!) at Bee Central as we turned bag upon bag of the finest English sugar into candy for our ladies.
The fondant, a scrumptious disc of pure white confection, is placed above the brood box (where the bees live) so the bees can access it if they get peckish. The hives are now sealed up against the winter weather, like a living memory box, with a front door.
Each hive’s entrance has a mouseguard to stop unwanted visitors. Those little critters feel the cold too. We don’t want them in our homes and nor do the bees. So the mouseguard stops rodent burglars. The hives are strapped down to stop them blowing over or perhaps being knocked over by an opportunistic badger.
So thank you, ladies, for all your hard work. Pop your feet up, rest your tired wings, and while you look after your Queen Bees, we’ll look out for you ???