Here we are again! Confusing times for our bees throughout the winter months to date, with weather bringing milder temperatures, chill winds, torrential downpours and fierce storms. Bees have been active and flying at various times, so it seems prudent to check that they are still well-provisioned for the remainder of the big chill. Recent storms have wreaked havoc across the country and our apiaries have not been spared from the onslaught. I have already found hive boxes blown over (thankfully, not occupied with bees). Looking forward to the new season, our training apiary bees have been treated for varroa and should still have stores on board to last until we see some useful forage appearing. Time to check!
We have been called to investigate bees-in-a-tree, a surprising outcome of a tree felling operation on a housing development site. We are working with the developers to plan a rescue mission, which will inevitably take the form of a ‘cut-out’, once we have some warmer temperatures that will give the bees a fighting chance for survival.
A cut-out is usually an eventful operation. It is unlikely that the bees can be left to remain in-situ, for various reasons. In the case of bees living in the hollow of a tree, the colony has already been badly disturbed during the felling operation. While they will continue to work in this compromised setting, it is a much better prospect to remove and relocate them. This involves the rather rude interference of cutting into the tree to expose the comb, then carefully removing and transplanting into a temporary hive setting, being careful to protect and capture the bees (and most importantly, the queen). The temporary hive is left at the site so that the bees can re-orientate to their new home, before moving to a more permanent setting, where they can re-establish. It is often a rather sticky and painful affair for the beekeeper but an unfortunate necessity to preserve the colony. All in a day’s work!
Watch this space for more news throughout the season!
Think like a bee!