BEEKEEPING COLUMN - Creating a buzz in January - The Evesham Observer

BEEKEEPING COLUMN - Creating a buzz in January

Evesham Editorial 29th Jan, 2024 Updated: 29th Jan, 2024   0
Welcome to the first edition of Worcestesrhire beekeeper, Jas Payne’s monthly column. Take a fascinating glimpse into the beautiful, industrious and vital role of bees in nature and experience life as an apiarist.

DO you know that honeybees don’t hibernate in winter?

A week or so ago, when the temperatures were much lower, my bees would all have been clustered together in their hives.

By vibrating their flight muscles, honeybees can generate enough heat to keep the centre of the hive at a toasty 35°C, protecting the queen, and any eggs and developing bees.

On warmer days – anything above about 7°C – they’ll venture out into the winter sunshine in search of pollen from flowers like snowdrops and viburnum.

It’s a dangerous mission and one that only the oldest bees undertake – if the sun goes in and the temperature drops the foragers can get chilled and won’t be able to fly back to the safety of the hive.

They’ll also fly out on what we call ‘cleansing flights’. Bees are very hygienic and won’t go to the toilet in the hive. They can keep their legs crossed for weeks at a time if they have to!

We’re now a month past the winter solstice and you’ll have noticed that the mornings and evenings are gradually getting lighter.

These longer days signal to the honeybees that spring is coming.

The queen will start to lay more eggs, and colony numbers will increase again so that by the spring, when the first nectars are available, there are enough bees to head out foraging, and enough to stay behind working in the hive.

January is a time when beekeepers leave hives alone as much as possible. Opening them would risk chilling the bees and cause them unnecessary stress.

I will only visit my apiaries every couple of weeks through January and February. I’ll be checking that the hives are still securely strapped together (especially after storms and high winds) and that the entrances are kept clear so that the bees can come and go as they need to.

The rest of my time is spent browsing through beekeeping catalogues, and ordering supplies for the year ahead.

I hope you’ll join me in the apiary again next month to see what the bees have been up to through February.

Written by Jas Payne

You can read Jas’ beekeeping column in the Bromsgrove Standard on the last Friday of every month.

It will also be released here online.


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