The winter preparations for our hives continue. Mouseguards are on and sugar syrup feeding has finished. Tom Bickerdike has been helping Emma and me out by adding insulation to our hive roofs, sealing it in with an extra wooden layer. Below you can see him posing with insulation with a hole cut in for fondant.
Last week Tom visited the National Honey Show with John Chapple. He and John were both impressed with this bee gym equipment. The name conjures up images of the bees lifting weights and doing gymnastics on mini trampolines, doesn’t it? Also the design reminds me of a boxing ring!
The idea is actually that the bee gym is placed on the hive floor, where the bees give themselves a good scratch up against the threads and those little plastic crescents or “flippers” you can see below. Like a cow trying to relieve an itch by rubbing their backs on a beehive, the bees apparently love to rub their abdomen up and down these things.
The bee gym may even be an effective way for the bees to shift varroa mites from their backs, as its creator Stuart Roweth has found numbers of mites dropped to be higher below the gyms. Stuart has given Tom and John Chapple a gym each so that they can test out whether they get the same results.
You can find out more about the bee gym at www.beegym.co.uk. The Contacts page says “Bee Gyms are available to beekeepers who would like to try this approach to Varroa control as part of our current trials.”
Last week I made this chocolate and Guinness cake, a Hummingbird Bakery recipe. I was pleased with its complex, rich and boozy flavour. Whilst still warm it reminded me of Christmas pudding; Drew said molten chocolate fudge cake. A little goes a long way!
I also tried out some long exposure photography and took this photo of a Fairground ride at the Southbank.
The days are drawing in now. It is dark when I leave for work in the morning and dark when I leave work at night. I go outside on my lunch break to try and get some daylight. Do the bees miss the sun as they huddle together in the winter, I wonder?