If cold weather continues into April . . .
Peter Halford has sent everyone a long-range weather forecast. What does this mean for you and your bees?
Currently a lot of colonies have begun to raise brood. This is a stressful time as older winter bees are having to produce brood food from their hypopharangeal glands. It is a bit like asking grandmothers to suddenly produce milk! In human terms this would be a bloody miracle.
In order for brood food to be produced colonies need pollen and in quantity. You probably have seen pollen going into strong hives over the last week or two. If you have an inspection board you will see tiny wax cappings on it as the bees start eating the honey in order to keep the temperature up in the brood nest.
We forget, however, how important pollen also is for our colonies of bees. In 2013 we had a very wet, cold spring and over half the colonies in the UK died off in consequence. In the bee world it was Armageddon!
My concern is that we may be in for a similar scenario. We have cold weather arriving over Easter and if this continues into the month of April we could have a problem. Our charges need to get out of their hives and collect pollen and they are only going to do this if temperatures are at about 8°. Preferably we need temperatures of 14 degrees for optimal pollen collection.
If they are incarcerated in their hives due to a run of low temperature, then colonies can collapse. What should you do? You should buy a pollen patty and put it onto the hive. Normally one doesn’t have to do this but if for two or three weeks at this critical stage we get very low temperatures, then this is the solution. Keith put pollen patties on his hives in 2013 and they survived. Watch the weather carefully, please!
Malcolm Wilkie 22nd March 2018