I have been waiting for the weather to cheer up enough to go and check the Thermosolar bees at Berwick, and today I took the plunge, otherwise I feared it would be Christmas before I got to them! The brooding skies weren’t terribly promising, but I wanted to at least check all was well, and see what was flowering down at the site.
I removed the inspection tray and discovered a lot of dead bees. I remembered that when I visited last time, part of the hive floor was not in properly and so some had got trapped. I know it looks like a lot but remember there are about 20,000 bees in the colony at this time of year so it won’t have affected the population, but it is something I need to bear in mind; I am still finding my way around the hive as it is quite a different configuration to a National or WBC. I miss being able to pop the lid off and look down through the holes in the crownboard, as this is my go to check to see how the bees are doing with my hives, and it’s not possible in this type. It was rather windy and desperately trying to rain so I didn’t go in the hive as the bees need to be left alone really from now on so they can settle for the winter. I will check inside briefly if we get a warm spell with no wind, but at this time of year it’s best to leave them if at all possible as they have to work hard to maintain their core temperature, even in these highly insulated hives.
These are a few varroa mites so if it stops raining I might have a chance to do a treatment: if not I will wait until spring. I watched the entrance for about 10 minutes, and there was activity despite the cool and strong breeze, and some pollen was coming in. I am quite out of touch with these bees though and I am used to watching my hives regularly. I need to connect with this colony more so I feel confident about what is normal for them.
The hive below left is not yet occupied, but next year I will put a colony in there and hopefully need the supers for the current hive if there is sufficient forage to be had to make surplus honey.
I walked round to see what was flowering. The pollen on the bees was bright yellow, so most likely to be ivy, but there are still a few things blooming for pollinators:
I will go back soon, and earlier in the day so that I can watch the bees and check they are foraging well. As this is a new place for a hive, it’s important to establish how well these do before we introduce more colonies to the area, otherwise they will compete for resources. The birds were not particularly in evidence, but that was unsurprising given the time of day, and poor conditions. There is standing water and tussocky grass, so it is the perfect spot for snipe, so next time I will remember my binoculars and keep a watch as I drive up the track.