After another week of wind and rain on the estate, Paula explains how her bees are coping
March 11th - March 18th 2019
With a week full of cold and windy weather, the main emphasis this week was to keep an eye on the hives to ensure no more were blown over or damaged. The colder weather prevents the bees from flying but hopefully, they have gone into ‘torpor’, the bee’s form of hibernation.
Beekeepers and bees prefer a cold winter to a wet and mild one. In torpor, the bees are tightly clustered together to maintain their temperature. With a reduction in movement and flying, they also need to eat less, so their honey stores last longer.
Our native black bee, Apis mellifera mellifera (pictured below), has queens who stops laying eggs when the temperature drops below 10-15 degrees. This means that the whole colony ‘freezes’ and no extra brood develops. Freezing can be beneficial in the Spring and Summer months as the bees are not forced to search for protein-rich pollen to feed the developing larvae. Imported Italian bees, Apis lingustica, lay right through the milder weather. This can cause problems if there isn’t enough forage for the bees when the temperature drops.
Apis mellifera mellifera
We have a mix of bees here on the estate. By increasing our colony number using wild and existing stock, rather than importing queens, we aim to establish a resilient strain of bee that is adapted to the UK climate.
Freedom - Not seen flying this week
Druid - Overall quiet, however, a single bee was spotted during a sunny spell.
Single bee outside Druid
Winifred, Alison and Sylvia - All looked well at Welham, with bees flying from all the hives during the week. A mixture of pollen taken in, ranging from orange to cream in colour.
Winifred bees flying with pollen
Emily- Spotted flying and still expelling debris from inside.
Cuppa & Compass - No flying seen but hives all surviving the wind.