Thermosolar Hive in Winter

A crisp cold day at the Berwick Solar Farm, and the redwings were out in force on the hawthorn shrubs as they are still festooned with berries. Two buzzards flew up from the large puddle in the parking area; I normally see snipe.

As the sun was shining on the hive entrance, there were a couple of foragers braving the cold, but unsurprisingly the hive was very quiet. The purpose of my visit was mainly to check the inspection board for mites and signs of activity.

Here you can clearly see whereabouts the bees are concentrating their energy:

There is a bit of condensation but this is on the feeder section of the hive so I am not concerned about it dripping on to the bees. You can see the brood area with a patch of dark frass on the left, and a lighter area of cappings and wax around it.

The brood area is still over 4 frames, judging by the lines of detritus, showing the colony is continuing to rear young. There are a few mites – maybe 10-15 across the whole board in 7 weeks – but this is very low: I’m impressed!

Then time to just sit and watch the hive for a bit. This is a really important thing to do during the winter months and helps keep you bonded with your bees. No pollen going in but that is unlikely to happen until the crocus and willow start to flower. On that note, planting early crocus is incredibly helpful to all bees, especially if you pick a spot which gets some sunshine as bees need the warmth, even if it is just a degree or two.

I noticed a group of little spiders sheltering in the knots of the hive strap – I’m not sure what species but hives make a fabulous shelter for all sorts of invertebrates:

The returning foragers were too sporadic for me to take any video, but here are some shots of the bees and their surrounds, with the array of solar panels doing their thing with the watery winter sun.

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