Last weekend brought a surprise – snowy rooftops. The white stuff melted fast, but the chilly air remained. Down at the apiary the ground was hard and all was quiet, with no bees flying.
When the bees are tucked up, the varroa boards provide a clue to the size and position of the cluster. The white flakes are particles of wax dropped by the bees as they uncap honey stores to feed. The dark brown oval shapes are varroa mites killed by oxalic acid trickling.
Each board tells a different story – some of the clusters are small and tight, others cover several frames. We have taken the boards out now as it’s not a good idea to leave them in all the time. This way the bees have ventilation at the bottom and plenty of insulation at the top, thanks to Tom’s specially built insulated roofs plus insulation foil from Wickes which we pack over the crown boards.
I checked the hive entrances and discovered that Melissa’s mouseguard had somehow come undone and fallen down on one side, leaving the entrance open. I put it back in place with extra drawing pins; hopefully I wasn’t trapping a mouse inside!
At this time of year I wish I could spend my winter huddling inside like the bees. I don’t enjoy my winter commute – leaving for work and coming home from work in the dark, waiting at chilly bus stops.
The solution? A nice cup of tea. This lovely ‘Bee puffer mug‘ by Lush Designs was one of my Christmas pressies.
I can put my bee mug down on a bee coaster from Chickidee too, another lovely Christmas present. Finding bee-themed baby clothes is my next mission 🙂