an extract from the Thornes February 2018 newsletter
What do your bees need?
Your bees are very self-sufficient; they only need four things, and will only collect five things… The four things they need are water, propolis, nectar and pollen. Water they use during the summer to cool the hive and during the spring to dissolve old granulated honey, to clean and free up comb into which the Queen can lay and to expand the nest. Propolis is used to fill in cracks and crevices, and to line the inside of the cells prior to the Queen laying eggs. Propolis has antibiotic and anti-microbial properties and is used to clean and protect the nest. Nectar is collected in vast amounts and evaporated down to generate the honey the colony runs on. Honey gives the bees the carbohydrate energy they need to live, fly and make wax. Wax workers consume large amounts of honey, cluster to generate heat, and literally sweat wax from their abdomens. This wax gives them the building material for the nest. Finally pollen. The frame above has a wide strip of pollen, under the honey in the top corners, above the darker brood, giving target like appearance of rings to the nest. If the brood frames lack the pollen arc, or it’s not as thick as this one, I would suggest you give your bees a boost. Brood food is given to the larvae prior to being capped and is made from Honey and Pollen. The Pollen gives the bees protein that they need for growing more bees. The availability of water and pollen is very important to the wellbeing of the colony in early spring. You may consider giving your bees a protein supplement, such as Nektapoll, Apicandy Proteico or Feed Bee, all of these contain extra protein content and aid the spring build-up. A local water source will also aid your bees and reduce the early spring losses. Oh yes – the fifth thing, this is usually a result of weakened colonies… Robbing! The weak will usually be exploited by the strong; in this case the stores (honey) will be stolen by the stronger colonies. Keeping all your colonies at more or less equal strengths, helps to alleviate this behaviour.