January Newsletter

Happy New Year Beekeepers! We hope you had a restful and happy festive season, and are getting ready for the year ahead.  

We currently have our Winter Sale running and stock is selling fast! It officially ends on Friday 20th January, but we’d advise getting your orders in sooner rather than later to avoid any disappointment, so don’t delay! Order online or over the phone - you can call us on 0749710140.   

2023 marks 10 years since Donegal Bees began and we have big celebrations in store throughout the coming year! We’re excited to share what we have in store with you all, but more on that later!   

We are currently making sure everything is up to date for our 2023 catalogue and hope it will be available from March. We will keep you updated in the meantime via our socials and emails, so make sure to keep an eye out.  

We made the cover of The Business Magazine! See Thomas and Áine pictured in the beautiful scenery of Glencolumcille with one of our CDB hives. 

  • Visit your apiary occasionally to check that all is well, that no hives have been turned over and no mouse-guards have become detached.  
  • Bees should be flying on a sunny day when it’s warm enough. They’ll defecate and may be able to collect pollen from winter-flowering plants. 
  • If you’re likely to have snow in your area, shade the entrance to discourage the bees from flying. They can be confused by the reflection off the snow, fly into it and so perish.

Courtesy of the Haynes Bee Manual

Beekeeping is seasonal. Hives depend on the weather and the pollinating plants around it to survive, so bees and beekeepers have to adjust to the environment’s whims. 

While the worker bees may not be venturing out, a beehive is literally buzzing with activity all month long. Thousands of worker bees have to constantly vibrate to keep the cluster warm enough to function and the brood nest warm enough to raise babies. All this moving takes energy, so each day in January, a hive will consume nearly a pound of its stored honey.

The beekeeper’s one big job is to make sure the hive has food. Hives may or may not be able to make it through the winter on their own, and the keeper has to be careful not to remove too much of their honey stores. The beekeeper has to know when it’s absolutely necessary to step in, because peeking inside the hive allows heat to escape, making it harder to protect the queen and brood.

Throughout the month, a beekeeper will most likely:

– Monitor hives for wind damage and check to make sure they’re ventilated. 

– On warmer days in late winter, quickly check the hive to make sure the bees have enough honey stored for food.

– Feed the hive by placing fondant, such as Hive Alive or Apipasta, in the hive.

– Order new equipment and bees. Because so many hives don’t survive the winter, almost every beekeeper has to order new packages of bees in the spring.

– Build and repair beekeeping equipment.

– Clear snow or debris from the hive entrance.

– Attend local bee club meetings.

In a way, a beekeeper is preparing for January all year long. The carefully choreographed building up of a hive’s workforce and honey supply––as one grows, the other tends to shrink––requires expert care from the first day of spring. Remember bees are livestock and we have a duty to look after them as best we can.

Courtesy of localhivehoney

The queen, surrounded by thousands of workers, will be in a rugby-football shaped cluster in the hive. There is little activity except on a warm day when workers take the opportunity for making defecation flights. There will be no drones present, but some worker brood will be raised. Little work is required at this time of the month. If the ground is covered with snow, shield the entrance to cut out the light and prevent workers flying and perishing in the snow.

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 

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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1 comment

  • Happy new year from me here in Northern Ireland. Thanks for my order from you and full marks to them that superbly packed it together 100% Hope to see you perhaps at Three rivers beekeepers meeting some time in the near future. Thanks again from a very happy beekeeper. Thanks Ken.


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