Last week Emma and I met up to check on our two hives. It was a warm day for November and we wanted to make sure our larger colony was set up well for winter, with not too much empty space which the bees might struggle to heat.
Here’s Emma glowing as she lights up the smoker. Particularly toasty feet – she had two pairs of socks on!
We had been considering removing the super and overwintering the bees on a single brood box, but we found they were covering several frames in the super and appeared to be using the honey. So instead we made up some insulated frames to place either end of the super, which should help keep them cosy. They also have plenty of silver foil thermal insulation sheets in the top of the hive (the kind you buy in rolls to help insulate lofts and walls).
Below is a FLIR thermal camera image of our polystyrene nuc. Inside the bees are doing great, they are covering all the frames and were bringing back two colours of pollen, dark and light yellow. I expect one is ivy but am unsure what the other might be.
I am skeptical about how exact that 11.4C reading is, as I would expect the colony to have brood, with frames containing brood kept nearer 34-35C by the bees. I also took a photo of a empty hive and found the camera read a similar temperature of around 9C! Philip over at the Mud Songs beekeeping blog has a useful post on Beekeeping With a “Flir One for Android”, with links to tutorials in the comments. I wish I had more time to investigate the software, but everyday life with Tommy is pretty full-on.
Look how much extra comb the nucleus bees have been busy building along the top of the glass. We have left them some fondant in the feeder hole.
Mouseguards are on now. The next thing to do will be oxalic acid treatment in December. Now that the law has changed, this should be done with Api-Bioxal. Annoying as it is a bit more expensive and doesn’t come ready-mixed.
Best of luck to everyone over-wintering your bees.