Sugary Easter treats

By | March 29, 2013

So RIP the community beehive.
Thankfully, it sounds like another ‘starter’ colony or nuc / nucleus has been found to get the hive up and running again.

Meanwhile my bees at the allotment are itching to get out and stretch their wings after being cooped up all Winter. The colony is strong and healthy, with loads of shiny winged young bees being hatched. And more bees means more mouths to feed.

March should have been a warmer month. It’s been warmer every March for the last 50 years, but March 2013 is different in that its been goddamm tragically cold. And snowing. Bees won’t venture out in the cold, wet, or wind, preferring to stay inside the warm and dry hive.

The bees would only have planned for enough Winter food to get them to February, so with a cold start to Spring beekeepers have to keep a watchful eye on their food stores, and provide supplementary feeding.


Sugary treats at Easter (well in truth, for March)

I’ve been giving my bees Ambrosia fondant as a supplement through this freezing March. It’s a marzipan like sugary paste you can buy in 2.5 kilo bags, which I’ve placed at the top of the hive, on the crown board.

The crown board  covers the top of the hive, keeping warmth in and providing an inner roof, but has two openings cut in. These openings are usually covered over to prevent bees accessing the very top of the hive and building wax comb in the roof. Bees have a natural instinct to always climb up, whether that is up a tree trunk, up inside a hive, or up a trouser leg..

Cuts in the fondant bag, positioned over the crown board openings, allow the bees to climb up and inside the bag to feed on the paste, while preventing bees access to the hive roof, or attic I guess you could call it.

Unfortunately the forecast for April is pretty poor.. so I’ll need to watch how much paste they eat – a starving hive is an indication of an inattentive beekeeper (thumbs down and frowns from the local association).

While the fondant provides a useful short term sugary carbohydrate energy source, bees also need the protein from pollen to grow and maintain health.

Fingers crossed April warms sufficiently, allowing the bees to get out and forage for themselves, and the surrounding foliage also springs to life. Next post: how the population size changes through the year

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