Winter approaching?

21st September 2010

Hard to think winter might be approaching – I am squinting from the sun and bathing in its warmth.

I think it is easier to make new entries rather than just a diary – in this blog the new pages seem to trigger more news that they have been published than another ‘post’.  I am a newbie blogger as well as a newbie beek.

My mentor phoned to-day; coincidentally I am intending to open the hive – possibly this afternoon, but I think I’ll bring it forward.  The main aim is undoubtedly to see whether they are using the super to store winter supplies.  A secondary aim just to check on whether the queen is still laying.  I think I may bring my inspection forward an hour or so.  It would be good if the builders next door were doing less churning and bumping about with their digger and earth moving as I am not sure the Mabels like it.  They must already have had their lunch, though, so no quiet spell looming.

I’ll give my findings later.

Post inspection briefing.

I did not go down to the brood box as I wanted to concentrate on the super that we added last time.  I can’t imagine what would have happened had you not suggested that because they could have become quite distressed had they run out of space to store in the frames in the brood box.  Of course there would be young bees vacating some cells there to make a little space.

I was absolutely amazed at how much they had done on the super.   We put it on just 9 days ago and it looks as though their progress must have been a frame a day. The number of bees on the for a start surprised me- of course I don’t know whether the brood box was almost devoid of bees;  I cannot imagine it was because the queen must be down there below the queen excluder and on whole they gather round her.  I took out 3 frames completely and by doing so could look at others.     The frames I did take out had so many bees it was hard to avoid them at the edges where you hold the frame but I am pretty sure I managed with no casualties.  The frames were quite heavy and typically had two thirds to three quarters capped stores.  The two outer frames were if anything holding more bees than the others and it seemed a pity to disturb them.  I could see capped stores on both of them near the top and I assumed these would be the last frames they would use.

The size of the lumps of pollen they were bringing in was also quite impressive.  It made me thing of travellers returning to Heathrow weighed down by cases and souvenirs because two lumps that size must be a large percentage of the size of their little bodies.

As usual, all I observed gave rise to new questions.  You gave me frames with drawn out combs.  Is there any information about the amount of energy they consume drawing out comb compared with collecting and storing?  is it possible to give too much syrup or does it depend on the prevailing temperature as to when you cease?  Is it also important to try and lure them away from using too much ivy as I gather that can become too hard to use?  Does honey itself have insulation properties?

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