Autumn is here. Colours are changing and the mornings and evenings are significantly cooler. Warm calm days mean some queen mating is still going on and we are still grafting.
Out in the field, queen wasps and queen bumble bees are looking for winter nesting sites. The beehives are warm and they can be seen seeking shelter under the lids. Ditto for field mice!
In the hives, bees are beginning to cluster and brood production is slowing significantly as cool nights and shorter days signal the approach of winter.
Bees, wasps, butterflies and bumble bees are all hunting for the last nectar supplies to store up for winter. The late blooming flowers are covered with the nectar hunters and they are digging deep between the petals. Bees are competing with wasps to get the inside of the last sweet grapes of summer in their hunt for sugar.
Some beekeepers are starting to feed hives with sugar syrup and pollen substitutes. Any weak hives should be united with strong hives as the weak ones will be unlikely to survive the winter.
Make sure sites are receiving sun as early in the day as possible. Consider moving any hives from damp or fully shaded sites. Bees shouldn’t be disturbed during the coldest months.
At this time of year, many beekeepers will have a growing collection of hive gear for repair or destruction. Going through all your gear is a good winter job in anticipation of Spring and a new year of beekeeping. Many commercial bee keepers paraffin dip their wood work for sterilisation, cleaning and preservation. This is also important for disease eradication. It is also a good opportunity to cull any rotten or substandard gear.
If you would like to paraffin dip any of your wooden gear and belong to the Ōtaki Buzz Club, please contact us email@example.com. We have our dipper going most days at the moment.