The weather is pretty horrid for most of us this week I believe, so let's consolidate our thoughts at home in the dry and warm and set up reminders of jobs needing to be done, with probably the most important relating to food, treatment and protection.

Make sure your bees have sufficient food for the winter.  You will have kept a record of the content of the hive and any food you have added.  So next time you visit, heft the hive and if you are happy the weight is sufficient, remove whatever style feeder you have been using on top of the hive, clean it and store for next year.  If you have used a frame feeder, hopefully you have made a note of which side of the hive you have placed it although there is no need to open the colony to remove it.  It can simply be left in and acts as a follower board.

Do you have treatment in your hives?  You will have kept a record of how many strips and what date they were inserted.  Now ensure you have a note on your Bee Craft calendar, or a phone reminder, for the date on which they need to be removed. Don’t forget, these records need to be kept for five years. Jason Learner of the National Bee Unit wrote an article in BeeCraft in 2014 which can be found here. Since that article was written there has been an update on Beebase of the approved medications.

Are your hive benches solid and secure?  Are the hives securely strapped to the benches to prevent any possibility of being overturned by animals/heavy winds - weighted down if necessary?  If in doubt, add something to make sure they are secure.  Hive benches do need checking regularly if they are wood as the weight of hives and a number of supers can cause the bench to collapse.

Have you protected your hives from predators?   Entrance reducers on?  Mouse guards on or just not yet? Make a note so you won’t forget.  Do you have problems from woodpeckers needing a ‘wire cage’ around the hives to keep them safe?

Lastly, make sure the area around your hives is tidy.  If you are ‘renting’ space in a garden, orchard or field your tidiness will be appreciated by the landowner.

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