Friday, 21 November 2008

A few warm days hasn't helped much, as I haven't been feeling well at all. I did manage to open the beehives, as I found them all flying strongly, bringing in ivy pollen. Hive 1 has a small patch of eggs, while the others had no brood at all, apart from a few stray cells which were just hatching out. So they'd all been broodless during the last cold snap. I saw two of the queens in the broodless hives, so there's no reason to assume there's any problem there.

I won't open them in cold weather - received wisdom says not to open in winter at all, but with care, there's no harm done, and a lot can be learnt. I know very little about behavious in cold spells as a result, but this tells me a little more.

Most of the alliums are now in, apart from some of the garlic. A lot of the overwintering onions are showing, and just as well. I've been a bit worried, as if they don't come through before the winter sets in, they're a dead loss. I'm not bothering with autumn planted broad beans this year, due to the losses last spring. If I start them in February, and plant out when they're 2-3 inches high, they'll have a better chance if there's another very long winter.


  1. Robert,
    You say received wisdom says don't open the hive at all, which is what I believe. You are a much more experienced beek than me so tell me when you would open a hive during the winter period and what you have learnt by doing so! Answer in less than 50 words.


    Mike Jones

  2. I've been doing it for years with no problems! I do winter oxalic acid treatments, which don't involve pulling frames, and as long as the temperature's over 40, I'm happy to do a quick inspection. I spotted this in Beofulf Cooper's book, and started in order to find the best time to use oxalic. My strain never seems to be totally broodless as long as it's not too cold, but they were all down to less than six capped cells at New Year, which is close enough.

    More than 50 words there, but never mind, I'm not being paid for this!

  3. Many thanks for that Robert, I have always beenafraid to do it because of the risk of chilling the bees. However warmer winters probably mean that there will be more days when a quick peek inside might do no harm. I will try, and report progress. Many thanks for your blog, very interesting but that might have something to do with the fact that we appear to have similar interests.

    Mike (retired teacher)