INSULATE BEE HIVES TO IMPROVE SURVIVAL CHANCES IN COLD WEATHER – 4th wk in January 2015

The South Wexford Beekeepers (www.southwexfordbees.org) organise very informative talks on the first Thursday of the month in the Teagasc offices near Johnstown Castle just outside Wexford town. Recently the very experienced beekeeper, John Morgan, gave an excellent talk and demonstration of what to do in the apiary this time of year. In short the answer is ‘not much’. However, I picked up a few tips like – check the bee access in not blocked – feed with fondant – watch out for robbing and close up any dead hive to prevent this – plant bee-friendly trees and shrubs and construct and repair frames, supers, brood boxes etc to catch swarms in the coming summer.

John made me think anew about bees and cold weather. I had heard that bees don’t mind cold, it is wet that kills them. However, John mentioned insulating the hives with cardboard under the roof and below the mesh floor. This makes sense. A little like us putting on an extra jumper instead of working to generate heat. Life is tough enough for the bees without making them work harder in the hive to stay warm and use up valuable stores of honey in the process. So out I went the day after the talk at lunchtime ( the warmest part of the day) and put a couple of squares of cardboard under the roof and under the mesh floor. I’ll remove this insulation when the temperature rises above 10 degrees c. and the bees and out foraging, perhaps in March.

It is on frosty mornings like this that the bees will appreciate the brood box insulation. Wait for a mild day to insert the insulation, however.

It is on frosty mornings like this that the bees will appreciate the brood box insulation. Wait for a mild day to insert the insulation, however.

 

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