What a wet start to the year! But let's not dwell on that. Time to have a quick peek at your hives to see they are still weather/water tight. Last night there were gail force winds and this could blow hive roofs off. So a quick apiary site inspection is in order.
We always give each of our beehives a Christmas gift of a block of honey/sugar fondant. This we do the week of Christmas (hope the bees don't open it till Christmas)! It's a little thank you for all their hard work for the past year and also a safeguard in case a colony is short of food supplies. Better safe than sorry. If they don't need it they will just leave it along. Never feed sugar syrup during the winter. Liquid sugar is far too difficult for bees to metabolise in cold temperatures and can lead to bee tummy upsets and dysentery.
Check the hive entrance for any blockage. The naturally high mortality rate among bees in the autumn can mean with so many bees dying within the hive, the house bees find it difficult to clear them all out. This build up can create a complete blockage of the hive entrance. Your bees can suffocate or water vapour build up occurs and invites mould and unhygienic conditions to spread within the hive. It's just not bee cosy!
Vandals are the prime reason to keep your hives 'out of sight-out of mind' At this time of year your hive will be very visual as hedges and trees die back exposing the once well hidden beehive. So now is the time to disguise your beehive. Camouflage it as best you can. In many of our out apiaries we have two sets of beehives, a- Summer Hives, painted white, b-Winter Hives, stained cedar brown. So in the winter not only are our hives less visual, but the stain allows the wood to breath and reduces water vapour build up within the wood and inside the hive.
Those were just a few January Beekeeping Maintenance Tips. BTW- Don't open your hive for an inspection in the winter. Any major disturbance to a hive now until spring can be very detrimental to bee colony health. So keep animals well away. Try not to bump, knock of jolt a hive. Do not attempt to move a beehive during winter. The bees will use their energy to break their winter cluster to find out what is going on. This unnecessarily uses up their food stores and their limited remaining life span.
photo copyright 2012 ©-The Hive Honey Shop