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Beekeeper’s Notes: Annual Debate On When The Central Heating Gets Turned On Starts

Published on: 1 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 1 Oct, 2022

Hugh Coakley keeps bees in Worplesdon

The annual debate between wifes and husbands about when to turn on the central heating was triggered by the sudden drop in temperature at the start of September.

The “put on another jumper” brigade battled with the “why do we have central heating if we don’t put it on” side. Every house will tell of a different outcome.

The queen in a cage getting marked on her back to make it easier to find her in a packed colony. Click on the image to enlarge it.

Energy prices will be playing a big factor now but apparently, the average time to turn the heating on was mid-October. Scientists say women are more likely to feel the cold than men and older people get colder more easily than the young. There is even reckoned to be a genetic aspect with red heads being more sensitive than others to the advancing cold weather.

It doesn’t bother the honey bees though who are well prepared for the cold and wet weather. Their honey larders are full and they can keep warm in the harshest of climates.

They are content now to gradually ramp down operations for the winter.

The queen is laying less. The workers are redistributing their honey to a more compact area on the hive, making it easier to get at when it really gets cold.

Can you spot the queen? It’s not easy so we re-marked her to make her easier to find in a crowded hive. It’s the beekeeping equivalent of Where’s Wally.

We are also doing what we can to assist their winter preparations.

Varroa treatment is high on the list.  One hive had a severe dose of the mite and badly needed the medicine, a strong smelling pad impregnated with formic acid which knocks out the parasites. We treated all colonies but the affected hive was ailing and wouldn’t have lasted another season without a purge of the mite infestation.

Formic acid impregnated pads on the hive help to curb varroa numbers.

It’s also the time to merge colonies, those without enough bees to survive a winter. And this we duly did with a weak, half sized hive and a slightly stronger colony. Joining them up gives them the numbers and the best chance to make it through what some have forecasted to be a harsh winter.

Fingers crossed, we shall see.

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