The purpose of this monthly piece is to give the reader some insight as to what is happening inside the honey bee colony at Beale Wildlife Park, and what activities the beekeeper is undertaking month by month. It is not intended to be comprehensive.
During the cold winter months, the Queen lays little to no eggs and the bees stay clustered mostly in a ball shaped around her. Bees do not hibernate and will go out on milder days to defecate. A few may go to gather water and any early pollen. They consume honey for energy and heat the cluster to around 29 degrees Celsius by shivering their wing muscles.
Regularly checks to the hives will be undertaken to ensure that they are secure and have sufficient winter stores. If stores are low, fondant will be fed to the bees. If there is snow, it will need to be removed from the landing boards and entrances. The treatment of Varroa (to remove any mites) using Oxalic Acid can be done at this time of year when there is no brood (eggs, larvae or pupae) likely to be in the hive.