The Lancaster research group have been busy putting our bees to bed for the winter. Our next full New Bee Team will start in the early spring ready for the new season, so our research students have been making sure the colonies are all set for the winter months ahead.
This year we concentrated on increasing our stock, not honey production, going from 3 colonies to 10 this year.
We have bred our own local Queens, those with the traits we want to see in our bees... calm, gentle, good producers of honey and brood, but also disease resistant and able to tolerate all the Cumbrian weather can throw at them! The children have done a great job and between the school site & our 'out apiary' we now have 10 healthy strong hives ready for 2020.
Bees need at least 20kg of 'stores' to get them through the winter, they don't hibernate, just cluster together to keep warm, slowly eating all the precious honey they have collected during the summer months. This is why we leave our bees with at least this amount to make sure they have enough.
Mouse guards have been fitted to stop any furry visitors making the most of free accommodation! Our boxes of fondant are ready to put on the hives in case the bees need extra food. The children have been 'Hefting' the hives to assess the weight of stores, which as we go through the winter, will allow us to know if the bees need any extra food.
As we performed a 'Shook Swarm' on all our colonies in the Spring and monitored the Varroa levels during the summer, we do not need to treat our bees now... but we will be doing a mid winter treatment at Christmas to make sure they are in the best of health for the season in 2020.