Last week my bees were enjoying the unusually warm weather and I saw them foraging on snowdrops in the garden.
Checking on the consumption of fondant on the colonies I found two which had eaten most of the fondant put on them a few weeks ago. You can see the advantage of using transparent plastic tubs to hold the fondant in this photo of the container on top of the crownboard which clearly shows that most of it has gone. I replaced the almost empty containers with fresh, full ones.
It is at this time of year that consumption of stores accelerates as queens start to lay more eggs and the colony uses up its stores to feed the new larvae. Most of my colonies have shown no interest in the fondant, so they must still have enough honey in the combs, but I will have to keep an eye on the two that are taking it as I’ll have to make sure they don’t run short.
An old beekeeping friend of mine and well known Cheshire beekeeper, Bob Parsonage who is sadly no longer with us, used to uncap some of the stored honey in his hives on Valentine’s day each year to encourage his bees to start to expand their activity. Opening up stores like this will encourage the queen to increase her laying rate and hence result in the colony expanding earlier in the season. There is however a risk with this as, if the weather turns cold again, the bees may not be able to maintain the brood temperature and their extra effort may be wasted if the brood becomes chilled and dies. I’m going to try this with a few of my colonies this year and I’ll let you know how I get on.