Hello beekeepers, thanks for tuning in to our November newsletter. Hope you had a fun Halloween!
This month we are launching our Irish Wildflower Beeswax Candle line, just in time for the upcoming holidays. With the longer evenings starting to set in, and everyone being mindful of energy usage this winter, a beeswax candle could come in useful to have around the house! The Irish Wildflower range includes 7 candle sizes, hand-rolled using our 100% natural beeswax foundation sheets, with each named after a native Irish wildflower. Beeswax candles are known to purify the air when lit, aiding in stress relief and eliminating odours with its natural honey-like scent. They also burn longer, brighter and cleaner than regular candles, and are naturally biodegradable. Whether buying for yourself or your loved ones, these candles will make an ideal gift this holiday season, and will suit every budget.
Aside from candles, if you’re looking to get an early start on the Christmas shopping Donegal Bees will have a selection of gift packs available very soon. And if you’re not sure what to get the beekeeper in your life this year, consider a gift voucher that can be used all year round both online or in store with us.
Black Friday is also coming up soon on the 25th November and we will be having special offers which will be announced closer to the time. Be sure to keep an eye on our socials @donegalbees.
For those of you who like to make your own candles, we’ve recently got in brand new candle mould designs - check them out at the end of the newsletter.
- Raise inner covers for winter ventilation.
- Protect hives against woodpeckers if they’re a problem in your area.
- Protect hives against livestock.
- In windy locations, place a weight on the roof to prevent it blowing away.
- Leave your bees alone. You must not disturb the winter cluster.
Courtesy of the Haynes Bee Manual
- Observe Your Hive
One of the best things you can do for your bees is to ensure their hive is well ventilated. Honeybees produce warmth in the center of the hive, which creates a very moist environment. Droplets can condense on the roof of the hive and drip down on the bees, which can be harmful. Tilting the hive box so that drainage occurs is one solution to this problem.
You also need to keep your bees warm so they do not risk cold exposure. Less robust colonies can be harmed by lack of warmth, especially in colder climate zones. You will want to be sure that the hive is placed in the best location possible. When insulating your hive, a winter wrap is a great choice to protect against the elements because it is both wind and waterproof.
The top things to watch out for when choosing the best hive location:
- Presence of pests
- Shade cover, or relief from precipitation patterns
- Fencing or wind-preventing structures
A barn or shed may serve well as a draft-resistant structure during the winter. Placing pest control traps will be especially important in these types of buildings. Be careful the hive is in a place that is also free from pesticides to avoid harmful effects to the hives’ inhabitants. A universal entrance reducer can be placed on the hive to reduce the likelihood of pests entering the hive.
Oxalic acid can be beneficial for beehive mite infestations. However, you should only use it during broodless periods in late fall. You cannot use if honey supers in place.
During warmer winter days, don’t be surprised if you see the bees take flight away from their hive. These cleansing flights keep bees healthy and strong during the winter months. They may also be a key opportunity for you to break out your beekeeping equipment and check the hive for dead bees or pests.
Providing a fondant to help sustain your bees over the winter months is critical to prevent starvation. Just be sure to double-check the bag often so it can be replaced when empty. See our recommended Apipasta Fondant and Hive Alive Fondant.
To know how much assistance your bees may need to keep their nutrition up during the winter, look at their stores of honey. If the honey has been recently depleted or the bees have simply not produced enough, it may be time to add fondant. Perform spot checks under the roof every few weeks.
- What to Expect From the Queen Bee
The queen bee enters into a dormant state of her own as the beehive enters the winter months. This will affect her behavior and brooding patterns. Mainly, brooding halts during the colder winter months. A lot of what a beekeeper can do for its queen bee is to make her as comfortable as possible.
Using a queen bee excluder can help you locate the queen bee. This handy piece of equipment helps keep the queen bee in one section of the hive. She is still accessible to all her worker bees and the presence of the excluder helps maintain healthy brooding levels. Maintaining steady brooding levels can help prevent disease and pests like mites as well. The hive is better positioned to defend itself naturally against these negative effects of the season. The Round Bar Wired Queen Excluder is a recommended choice as it is gentler on the bees passing through.
- Last But Not Least
Winter is also a great time to brush up on all your bee-keeping expertise!
[ Courtesy of dadant.com ]
Preparing for Winter
Help your bees by making sure that they don’t run short of food. A National Standard brood comb full of honey contains about 2.3kg (5lb), or 1.15kg (2.5lb) per side. Go through the brood nest and estimate the amount of stores. Then ‘heft’ the hive: raise the back and side of the hive in turn just enough to slip an imaginary postcard between it and the stand. Try to relate how this feels to your estimate of the stores present. With practice you’ll be able to estimate stores just by hefting. Then feed the appropriate amount of strong sugar syrup using your feeder of choice. A well-fed colony will feel as though it’s nailed to the stand.
Robbing is best controlled by never letting it start. Don’t spill syrup. Don’t have leaky feeders. Make sure the only way into the hive is through the entrance. Reduce this to a size the guard bees can defend. If bees have to queue to get in, more of them will be stimulated to become guards.
With all the required syrup/fondant now in the brood chamber, all should be well for winter. Fit a mouse guard to the entrance if not done already. Strap and or weigh down the roof against winter wind. Monitor the now small entrance regularly for the build up of dead bees. Bees are dying all the time and just a few can block the entrance leaving the others unable to get out. Keep a regular check for rain getting in. Feeding should not be required yet but keep an emergency block of fondant with you just in case (most of the colonies that die out are due to starvation). Most important remember bees are livestock and we have a duty to look after them as best we can.
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.
Federation of Irish Beekeepers Association - https://irishbeekeeping.ie/
Irish Beekeepers Association CLG - https://www.irishbeekeepersassociation.com/
Native Irish Honey Bee Society - https://nihbs.org/
Our Basic Kit includes a beesuit, gloves, smoker, hive tool and a bee brush. €115
We’re currently running a sale on the Apipasta 15kg Box, while stocks last. Don’t miss out on a bargain!
Our Hive Alive Fondant is also back in stock, which you can find here.
We've recently expanded our candle mould range, which now includes new Christmas designs! Check out our candle mould range here.
Lastly, thank you for keeping bees! Let us know if you have any questions regarding your hive, we’re always happy to help.