Hi everybody it is a very warm back-end to the summer which will undoubtedly influence some beekeepers to feed their bees in a slightly different way. Personally I cannot over emphasise the importance of feeding your bees. To some extent follow the season, in other words as the season closes, normally speaking bees will close down their activities in sync with the relevant weather pattern. Flowers will begin to go over and all activity with regard to income will gradually come to an end. Climate change no doubt will have an effect on the bees, exactly how is another question. I have seen over the years how bees do adapt to their surroundings and available flora. Most of you will know I have kept bees for pretty well all of my lifetime and I have seen the various changes take place over the years. There have been ups and downs in their fortunes but in general the fortunes of bees in the last 50 to 60 years has been declining mainly due to the type of farming which is taking place throughout the countryside. Farming has a big influence on how our bees survive, keeping livestock of any sort bees, animals kept on a low plane of nutrition ultimately leads to a poor standard of health. There is nothing clever in that it is a fact which most people will understand, bees kept on a low plain of nutrition will suffer. We have seen it many times when the weather is good and the flora and fauna is in abundance the bees do better and generally are healthier. However in the last 20 to 30 years we have seen many changes which has brought the bees’ general health down, not only having the climate to consider but diseases also.
Feeding bees how and when
There is no doubt that this is one of the main jobs of the season getting your bees fed. I have always said get your bees fed early, co-incide with the declining season. In other words when you stripped your honey off in this first or second week of August generally speaking there is not much for the bees to get in the way of income. So my view is to feed the bees as soon as possible as you can after the middle of August to enable the bees to consolidate and drive off any excess moisture. Entrance blocks must have been put in at the beginning of August to enable the bees to protect themselves from other colonies in the area and wasps too. 2 to 1 has always been the recognised measurement for autumn feed which produces a thick syrup. You should aim to get 2 gallons of syrup on your bees if they are indigenous bees, if they are faster breeding bees you may have to give them 3 gallons of syrup. That is the customary way of feeding bees and one which has stood the test over many many years. If the climate changes then you may have to change your feeding regime to meet that demand. It is generally accepted that if the weather turns cold and the bees cluster on the comb they do not consume as much of their stores as they would if they were active. In other words not in cluster they will consume considerably more stores because of the energy which they are using. This is why we are in a state of flux and one should be very careful about how the climate may affect your bees. I would encourage you all to be thinking beekeepers about what is taking place naturally and what the bees may do to compensate. In these notes I have given you a few ideas that you may explore. You see beekeeping is not only a practical thing but there are some deeper questions that need to be addressed, think outside the box if possible and adapt to any change in circumstances.