I wanted to pop in and check the inspection boards of the Thermosolar hives to monitor the mite numbers, and generally make sure all was well.
It was a cool day but there was some sunshine so I hoped the bees would be flying.
Sure enough, the second hive was active, with bees steadily flying, but I saw no pollen so they were presumably gathering nectar which is normal for this time of year, not that there is a great deal flowering now. By this stage in the year the colony really needs to have prepared itself for winter so any last minute foraging is a bit like dashing to the corner shop on Christmas Eve: not to be relied upon. The ivy blossom has mostly gone over now, and although there were a few stragglers, it’s now time for the bees to hunker down and make the most of their stores.
The highly insulated and reduced space in the boxes of the Thermosolar hive means the bees need less food as they don’t waste energy just trying to stay warm, and as these colonies are not cropped for honey, they have all the food they’ve gathered through the year to draw upon. In good years there can be a genuine surplus but allowing the bees to build huge reserves of honey by definition means they are impacting the resources available for other pollinators. By letting the bees follow their own growth cycle we are not artificially forcing a situation, and are relying on the bees to manage their nest efficiently.
I checked the inspection boards
Nothing untoward on the boards: a few mites and cell caps (where the bees have hatched out) and a few wax moth droppings on the first hive’s board. They were definitely less active, although they did pop out to see what was going on when I replaced the board.
I’ll be interested to see how they get on over this winter. They were definitely ‘slower’ this season and it may be that they don’t survive the winter. Bee colonies are surprisingly dynamic beings, especially when we site them in places and in structures that we decide would work well…
I went for a stroll around the rest of the site and collected a few teasel seeds.