Now that the weather seems to have turned the corner its highly likely that your bees have begun to settle down and cluster. We are still hearing of the occasional colony being active, making trips and returning from what is most likely ivy amongst a few others, but on the whole as you would expect around this time of year the majority are settling down for the winter.A few things you may wish to consider over this month:
Wind – A hive in a vulnerable position can be blown over by a strong gust of wind. Make sure if this is the case to take a few precautions. A deep roof, hive strap or a heavy weight on top are all options.
Woodpeckers – A menace all year round, but in the winter when the temperature drops a colony will have no hope with a large hole in the side of the hive. Covering you hive with netting or a form of wire mesh can help ward of woodpeckers.
Mice & Wax Moth – Mice can be prevented from entering a hive by mouse guards but both can also be attracted to any stored equipment you may have around. Wax moth will wreck beekeeping equipment, be sure to seal it away safely for the winter.
Cleaning equipment before storing it is good practice but it is also highly recommended to help prevent the spread of disease when you come to use it again. Use acetic acid to sterilize your hives and frames. We also have a specific rosemary based cleaner from Bee NOVE for honey harvesting equipment as well as a Propolis remover.
Last month we recommended if your bees didn’t’t have sufficient stores feeding them was essential, with either plain fondant or a pollen rich fondant to give them an extra boost. This is still very relevant all through the winter months.