Winter Losses a Mixed Blessing

by Peter Mathews

I think we have all looked at that 'dead' hive......... then noticed the solitary bee emerge. And, as we gradually realise all is well, we can leave things alone and return home pleased with our efforts in winter preparation.One of the great joys at this time of year is to see all our colonies coming through the winter ready for the warmer weather ahead. That is if we haven't lost any!

Several of our new beekeepers have been expressing calamity and woe because they have lost one of their colonies. That, of course, is why we keep more than one colony. Lose one hive out of one and you are out of business. But,if you have two or three hives it is not the end of the world. Looking back to my early years, I must confess I was greatly relieved to lose the odd colony. For someone in their second year of beekeeping after raising bees from a swarm or nuc the prospect of managing a couple of really strong hive scan be a daunting prospect. This is an even greater challenge if you are not provided with the best tempered bees!

So if you are the odd colony down, bringing on a second colony to replace that lost over winter is a much easier task. Do all you can to bring your bees along, and watch out for queen cells. They are now a very welcome sight. Just follow the steps for an artificial swarm , but now don't re-unite, and you have your 'lost' hive back in business. Honey production may suffer a little but you should end the season with full hives ready for another winter.

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