February Newsletter

Hello beekeepers! Welcome to our February newsletter.

February 11th is feast day of Saint Gobnait, the Irish patron saint of bees and beekeepers. Celtic lore held bees in high esteem, believing the soul left the body as a bee or a butterfly. Gobnait is said to have added beekeeping to her life's work, developing a lifelong affinity with them. One story tells of how she drove off a brigand by sending a swarm of bees after him and making him restore the cattle he had stolen!

Of course February is also home to Valentines Day, and we have put together a specially loved up edition of our Candle & Soap Set - which includes our trademark Irish Wildflower Beeswax Candles, handmade natural scent-free soap, chocolates and sweets! If you’re looking to treat a loved one (or yourself ;) ) check out the set here.

Our good friends and supporters at Údarás na Gaeltachta were at Showcase Ireland in Dublin's RDS on 22 - 24 January 2023, and kindly exhibited some of our products including our candles, bee hotels and beekeeping books!

Over the coming months there are a number of important events taking place in Irish Beekeeping. We headed to our first event of the year - the Three Rivers Honey Show in Castlefinn, Co. Donegal on Jan 29th. Our next stop is at the Ulster Beekeepers Association Conference this weekend Feb 17th & 18th in Co. Antrim. We hope to see you there!

  • Increasing day length means that the queen is starting to lay. 
  • Greater activity means that bees will start making inroads into their winter stores. 
  • Heft the hive to check that the colony has sufficient food. 
  • Crumbs of beeswax on the floor or alighting board indicate bees are opening the cells and using their stores. 
  • Pollen loads being taken into the hive indicate increased brood-rearing activity. 
  • Make sure that the water source near the apiary is in a sunny spot that will warm the water before the bees drink it. A chilled bee will be unable to fly back to the colony. 

Courtesy of the Haynes Bee Manual

February can be a frustrating month. It may feel like you’re out of the woods as far as winter’s concerned, but your bees are still fighting the good fight. This month is all about making the few nice days count. Any temperature over 10°C is your new best friend, as that’s when you’ll see your ladies out and about taking care of business. 

Take advantage of any days over 10°C to go check on your hive. You want to see bees flying out and about. If you can’t be home when temps are the highest, look for evidence that the bees were out—usually, poop scattered on top of or near the front of the hive is a good sign!

The warmer it is, the more thorough investigation you can make. At around 15°C, you can open the hive briefly to assess the remaining honey stores and clear out the dead bodies that accumulate over the winter. 

Condense honey stores into one area, and, if they’re out of honey but still alive, begin feeding. We recommend a fondant like Hive Alive or Apipasta in spring since the bees will be using it for immediate energy and not storing it. Don’t fill the jar all the way, as the solution could still freeze. Check on it whenever temperatures are high enough to make sure the holes aren’t clogged.  

If your bees didn’t survive winter, we offer our condolences. It’s hard to lose a colony. Take comfort in the fact that the work of your deceased colony will give your new colony a stronger start. If your colony didn’t survive, now’s the time to put down a deposit on new bees so you can get an early start in spring.

Courtesy of beepods.com

If you're looking to treat varroa this coming spring, Varromed is an excellent choice. We should have stock coming in next week! 

If you’re lucky, you’ll get a few warm days here and there during February. If not, you may need to hold off until March to begin inspecting your hives. No matter what month it is, wait until the temperature rises to around 10 degrees and you see bees begin taking flights, but keep your hive checks brief (30 seconds or less).

Remove the cover to check for sealed honey in the top bars but leave the frames where they are. If you don’t see a good supply, we suggest adding Hive Alive or Apipasta to help supplement the colony’s remaining honey stores. Continue checking on the hives on warm days and feeding them until the first bloom.

TIP: Joining a local beekeeping association or club is the best way to learn about the particulars of beekeeping for your region. It’s one of the first things we suggest to anyone looking to become a beekeeper. 

Essential Equipment:

Our Basic Kit includes a beesuit, gloves, smoker, hive tool and a bee brush. €115 

This year we are celebrating our 10th birthday! We have lots of exciting promotions and launches in store throughout the year so be sure to keep an eye on our social media and monthly newsletters!

Lastly, thank you for keeping bees! 

Let us know if you have any questions regarding your hive, we’re always happy to help. 

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