Our activities so far this month have once again been largely dictated by the weather and there has been very little to report. All the colonies have had a further and hopefully, last block of candy. This was just over a week ago and although there were bees flying, the bulk were still tightly clustered. Although I haven’t disturbed the frames as yet and have limited my activities to the lifting of the crown boards to check on the candy situation, all the signs are that numbers are on the increase. The clusters definitely appear to comprise more bees and the fact that copious amounts of pollen are now coming in whenever the weather permits, suggests that the queens are really coming into lay. I always feel a degree of frustration this month, similar from memory, the way I used to feel as a child, on Christmas Eve. Knowing the promise the following day held in store but for the moment, only able to look on and wonder.
I have however, managed to give all of the vacant hives a fresh coat of Cuprinol so my time hasn’t been entirely wasted. The other day my friend Liz boiled up all my empty frames and I now have enough to populate not only all of the new nuc’s. but also the mating nuc’s. The next jobs will be to fit the frames with new foundation and assemble the ekes which will convert my remaining hives to 14×12″. I like to do little jobs like that sitting at one of the picnic tables at the top of the meadow but I rather fancy the weather is going to have to improve before I take that on.
Well into the third week now and the weather continues to be the over riding factor, still dictating what can or cannot be done around the apiary. I wasn’t too happy with the first coat of stain that the hives received so took the opportunity to give them all a second yesterday. Hopefully the results will be more pleasing this time. My spare floors have also had a “once over”, this in readiness for our season’s first job which is to change all the hive floors. This gives me the first true indication as to how the bees have over-wintered and only takes a couple of minutes per hive. All the floors being of similar design does simplify the operation it being a simple matter to move the complete hive to one side, place a clean floor in it’s place, unclip the hive from it’s old floor and place it on the new. I mentioned unclipping the floor from the hive. To elucidate, all my floors and 14×12″ extension ekes now have hive fasteners fitted.
ALL FLOORS AND EKES HAVE FASTENERS FITTED
They make life so much easier and only cost a couple of pounds. I first fitted them following a very nasty incident when a floor became detached from the brood box during examination allowing it’s angry contents to vent their displeasure on my left leg. Since fitting them, happy to say, there have been no similar incidents and I can’t recommend them highly enough. As I said, changing the floors in this manner only takes a moment and I’m sure the bees are totally unaware that they’ve been disturbed. I only have two spare floors which does dictate my progress somewhat as I like to scorch and re-stain each floor before re-using them, but, even with allowing a day between hives, the whole job is finished within a week and well worth the effort I always feel.
Two more days and we shall be into April. The clocks have gone forward so we really can now look forward to Summer and all that it promises, although March, for it’s own part, looks to be exiting in the same vein as it began. We experienced a storm a couple of nights ago as ferocious as any I can remember, so much so that I was at the meadow shortly after eight. Driving over I could imagine all sorts of carnage awaiting me, the storm of a couple of weeks previous had dislodged one of the roofs and that hadn’t been anywhere as fierce as last night’s so, you can imagine my thoughts as I climbed out of the car.
Glad to say, my fears were unfounded, whether the wind had come from a different direction I don’t know but thankfully, all the hives were intact. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for the willows skirting the meadow, two of them had taken quite a hit with a large section of one of them now laying on the grass. Not too close to the hives thankfully whose occupants were now beginning to emerge, their demeanour suggesting that they were totally oblivious to the happenings of the previous night. It would seem that I was the only one who lost any sleep, and for one who needs all the Beauty Sleep that he can get, not very good news, but as the saying goes, “All’s well that ends well” innit.