In the Apiary: December

1 Cleansing flights/stores consumption
Water collection by bees
3 Check hive weight by hefting
4 Treat colonies with oxalic acid

December used to be the month when frosts hung on in shady places al day, and we got those dreary, foggy mornings when the sun hadn’t the strength to break through. These days it is more likely to be mild and fairly dry. The bees should now be tightly clustered on some frames surrounded by food, and wil stay put until weather warm enough alows them to venture forth on a cleansing flight. Bees wil only defaecate within the hive if they are sick, or if the stores on which they are feeding contain much waste matter, e.g. heather honey. The hind part of a bee’s gut in winter can hold waste products for several weeks, so you can see that cold spels of weather are no problem so long as we get milder breaks every so often. Generaly speaking, recent winters have been unseasonably mild (although last year seemed to mark a change back to the sort of winter we used to experience) so bees wil have found no problems with flying outside. Too much good weather at this time of the year can have its drawbacks, however, causing the consumption of stores to rise, and so maybe leaving too little for the spring . al the more reason to make sure they are plentifuly supplied with stores in the autumn.

This month is a good time to treat any colonies with oxalic acid if you think the number of varroa mites might be too high. As there should be little or no brood in hives, the mites wil al be on the bees. Folow the instructions on the pack and only dribble the required amount of oxalic acid between the seams of bees. You want to disturb the cluster as little as possible. The external temperature needs to be above 3 made up from Thorne.s a few weeks before I intend to treat, but you can just as easily make up your own by dissolving the appropriate weight of crystals in sugar syrup, using a syringe to dispense the required amount along each seam of bees. C and the solution at room temperature. I buy mine ready

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