The Bees in November

All’s quiet with the bees in November. If all has gone to plan the queen will have stopped laying and the ‘winter bees’ (physiologically different to summer bees – the winter variety are designed to live through to Spring in 6 months as opposed to the normal 6 week lifespan) will be forming a cluster round the queen to keep warm and feeding on their stores of honey.

All hasn’t gone quite to plan though and the stores got robbed by wasps. I’ve been feeding them syrup but as the warm weather really went right to the end of October all this got used up as well. Now that the temperature has dropped I can’t feed syrup any longer as they struggle to reduce the water content and there’s also a risk of diarrhoea (not very nice for anyone, least of all bees) so I’m going to start them on fondant in the next few weeks.

I think we may also have lost the queen in the hive on the left – possibly killed by wasps. I won’t know for sure until Spring when the temperature will have risen enough to do an inspection.

Fondant is expensive stuff – about £25.00 for 10kg and I think we’ll need about 40kg to be on the safe side. So this year I’m making my own with a recipe using sugar and liquid glucose and possibly a spot of thymol. The trick is to get the right consistency – it needs to be a little bit soft but not so much it gets runny – and also (I speak from experience) avoiding spilling liquid sugar over the ceramic hob. Wish me luck…

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