07917 677667 beesatbobs@btinternet.com RJ beekeeping, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands

I checked all my apiaries today. It was really cold and the bees were all tucked up; a few needed more fondant and one entrance was clogged up with dead bees (though the girls inside seemed okay). I am anxious to get started but the weather makes me feel it will be a good few weeks yet before I get to do any “real bee keeping”; for now it’s surveillance only, I have to be patient.
I sadly have another loss – my feelings on this are mixed:
It still hurts (as I’ve said before)! The last two Autumns I have drawn up a type of prediction table of my colonies , sort of “odds” of surviving the winter. Last Autumn I marked 5 colonies “at risk” – by coincidence they were all in nucleus hives (but not all my nucleus hives were marked at risk – you follow?). The 2 I have lost to date were both from this category, so I am not too upset as I didn’t hold that much confidence. This is where detailed records are invaluable. The disappointment here has to be that this was the colony used for my observation hive, and this is the second year running that the colony used for the observation hive has consequently died out in winter. For this I curse myself as I have perhaps abused it by using it for such purpose late into the season. A lesson learnt me thinks.
Looking at the records reveals a mind of information: this was a swarm that came into my garden last June and settled in some empty supers (about to be put out for filling!). The queen was unmarked and began laying straight away but never really built up that well (an old failing queen maybe). The records also show that it was a part of my random microscopy checks and nosema was present, so there is another maybe. But maybe I abused it a little too much and the queen may have got damaged late in the season being hoofed around and yanked in and out of the frame for the public to view- I curse myself.