Timely Reminder 10th February 2016

By Pauline Aslin

It’s usual that if you heft your hives regularly you may notice a sudden loss of weight in early spring (yes, as early as February) when the bees start to become active again. However, a warm December has meant that many colonies were using more stores than usual and beekeepers have been reporting hives going light much earlier than usual.

A short cold spell in January made the bees cluster at last, but if they were already short of stores and the outside temperature drops, isolation starvation may become an issue. This is where the cluster becomes isolated from the remaining stores and it is too cold for the bees to break from the cluster to collect the stores. What to do?

If you suspect this could be a problem, you can feed fondant or candy. It is best to place this right over the cluster, underneath the crown board. Choose a time when the sun is shining and there is no wind, have your fondant ready and make sure it is rolled thin enough and going to fit under the crown board – or use an eke. Then lift the crown board, check the location of the cluster and place the fondant, before putting the hive back together.

If you take off the roof and can see the cluster immediately below one of the holes in the crown board, you can place a small amount of fondant into the hole to rest on the frames below and form a bridge up to the rest of the fondant which you can place over the hole.

There is more information about feeding bees here

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