Jonathan: This is the time of year for culling livestock. In the past the meat would have been salted, dried, smoked … All a lot of work – so thank heavens for freezers! Today I’ve been plucking and jointing cockerels, some younger Buff Orpingtons we raised for meat, and the first of three Welsumer cockerels from the croft that must make way for some youngsters.
Denise: This morning’s walk with Tilly was from the road end at South Smerclete along the track at the head of the beach and round the point at Ceann a’ Garraidh. Grey scudding clouds, a cold wind, occasional spots of rain, heaps of kelp cast onto the beach, and strewn with wind-blown flotsom. And strangely beautiful!
Jonathan: Sunny and still this afternoon – a good time (for November) to check how the bees are.
There was a little coming and going from the hive, though goodness knows what they were doing out and about!
The hive with the colony I created with the transferred Queen, had almost used up the honey they had made since August and stored in the super: just the innermost frames still had any honey. I removed this super (and the queen excluder) and replaced it with an eke, and put in that a generous supply of fondant, and also a supply of Nectapol (just in case!).
The ‘original’ colony (which I left to form a new queen) still has lots of honey in its super. I replaced the empty outer frames with those from the other hive which still had honey on them. So I didn’t need to supply fondant, but did provide some Nectapol (again, just in case!). Queen excluder left in place, as I didn’t disturb the super – just slight rearrangement of frames. Later in the winter, when they’ve run down the honey in the super, I’ll remove both the super and the queen excluder, so that there is the minimum air space inside the hive and the food I supply is as near to them as possible.
Last time I was home I saw workers kicking drones out of the hives. This time I didn’t see any drones at all. But quite a lot of workers were sent out to sort me out! About the same number from each hive, and equally prompt, but nonetheless I have the impression that the ‘new’ hive does not have so many bees.
My strategy this winter is to simply maintain a supply of essentials, keep them warm and dry, so as to give them the best possible chance of getting through.
Next spring I’ll need to check that we still have at least one queen. If there are indeed two (ie both hives are viable), then there’s more reason to be confident that it’s worth continuing. I have a provisional order for two new nucs to be collected in May.
Denise and I have agreed to rearrange the fencing in this corner of the garden, so as to create a larger sheltered area, and to site beehives in little sunny gaps amongst the trees and bushes. Another job!