South East news by John Mumford

While checking out my bees, (mid Jan 08), as I do every week during the winter months, I was pleased to find that they have all survived in good condition, even the 4-Frame Nucs look quite strong, and so I should have a few Nucs ready for sale in April.

The mild weather in October and early November allowed the bees to continue raising brood very late into the Autumn. My bees have not used up much of their winter stores yet! But they will do once brood rearing starts, which will be any moment now. It is the big colonies that are most at risk now, and a close watch needs to be kept on their stores situation. Big colonies will sometimes expand so fast in March that they run out of stores and starve in a couple of weeks.

Bees will soon start foraging for pollen and water, and some will get caught out and die before they can get back into their hives. It is normal and nothing to worry about unless it becomes excessive, when disease should be suspected. Colonies will loose half their bees in the next month or so before the new brood starts emerging in sufficient numbers each day to make up for those lost each day.

The late brood rearing last Autumn had one big disadvantage! It allowed the Varroa mites to continue breeding, and I am finding that, (and again it’s mainly with the bigger colonies), mite drops have continued at a persistent 1 or 2 per day right through the winter. I will have to wait another five or six weeks before I can put in a Spring Varroa treatment, and then estimate how big the problem actually is.

The AGM is at 8.00pm on Thursday 14th February 2008 at Hoddesdon Baptist Church Hall.

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