The hive is slowing down as we move through August. The queen’s rate of laying diminishes and most of the major nectar flows have all but finished, as the bees start their preparation for the long winter ahead. Honey will need to be brought close into the brood chamber and capped with wax to preserve it (the bees raise the temperature in the hive to reduce the water content of the honey to 18%, this eliminates the risk of fermentation and gives the honey extended life). The bees also become quite defensive to protect their honey stores from robbing wasps, other bees and hornets being the main threat.
Throughout the growing season the bees have helped to pollinate most of the hard and soft fruits and vegetables such as beans, peas, courgettes,onions, cucumbers and tomatoes which have all benefited. Pollination is only the starting point for our crops to be successful. The right amount of water and sunshine are needed and this is always a topic of much debate, too much of one and not enough of the other is the usual starting point. From my own allotment I have had the best crop of strawberries,raspberries and gooseberries for many years.
The bees at the moment are still struggling to build enough brood to make a viable colony for the winter. We will give them until the end of August if things have not picked up they will be reunited with a stronger colony to make sure of survival.
A few more bee facts:
- Only the queen bee and the female worker bees go through the winter. In the next couple of months all the drones (male bees) will be kicked out of the hive and they will sadly die as the colony has no use for them.
- During September /October the queen will start to lay eggs again. this brood will form the colony of winter bees. They will be fed on a high protein diet which comes from their pollen store, they will grow larger and must be able to survive for 3-4 cold winter months. On the durability of these bees rests the future success of the colony. Only strong colonies will survive, especially if we have another long and cold winter.
Kind regards from the HIVE