Feb 23

The Bee's Year

The Honeybees at Sharrow Bay Hotel 2017

2017 started with an early and warm spring. The bees collected lots of spring nectar and by the end of May their stores of honey were very good although the frames were not fully capped. Maybe the bee’s instinct was that they shouldn’t cap the cells of honey as bad weather was on the way.

Sure enough when the end of the spring came in the middle of May; the usual June gap was extended by cool damp weather for three weeks. This meant that the bees needed to use the honey they collected during the spring. There would be no surplus for the beekeeper or others.

The cold June gap was followed by a wet summer resulting in fewer days when the bees were able to fly. By August, the usual surplus honey harvest time, it was still wet and cool. The bees had to be fed sugar syrup to keep them going and to store in the brood boxes ready for their long winter in cluster. They were fed 40 litres of 2:1 sugar syrup and for the winter were given 60 Kgs of fondant.

This winter has been a lot colder than previous years with prolonged periods below five degrees. 

Snow in January and February and temperatures below zero have prevented the bees from taking cleansing flights or gathering pollen from Snowdrops and Aconites. 

The bees have been in cluster for a prolonged period and if not able to move to honey stores they will be in danger of isolation starvation.  Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Hopefully spring is on the horizon and the bees will be able to get out to the Crocus and early wild flowers. They will also be fed pollen patties to help them build up for a warm and dry spring ready for the early nectar flow.

Terry Phillips