Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Hive Cosies

It's the time of year when the bees start to retreat into their hive, ready for winter, which they'll spend clustered together, gradually eating their stored honey to keep warm. To help them with this, we've been taking a few steps. Yesterday morning, we went to a wholesaler, to collect 400kg of bakers fondant, which is essentially 88% sugar, with some glucose and water. As such, it's a good food source for the bees, partly because it's a similar sugar:water ratio to honey, so they don't have as much processing to do to it to get it ready to store. We've put a 12.5kg block of this in the top of each hive, which, over the next few weeks, the bees will store in their honeycomb. The fondant is an absolute pain to slice up to fit; in the end, my preferred solution is a spade, and my full weight.

Apart from that, we've also been slicing expanded polystyrene sheets into smaller pieces, to form four-piece 'wraps' that will go around the sides of each beehive. The hive roofs already have PU foam insulation in them, so between that and these external wraps, the hives will be a bit warmer. That reduces the amount of honey/stores that the colony needs to survive the winter. It also has the effect of dissuading woodpeckers from attacking the hive—which they otherwise correctly identify as a wooden box containing highly nutritious (proteinaceous) insects. Rather valued insects.

The other thing of note was delivery of ten tonnes of gravel, which will be going down on paths at some point.

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