November In The Apiary
This is the month which sees the start of Autumn. A time when everything starts to slow down, the days growing shorter and the temperature drops. The bees respond to this by moving close together forming a cluster in the hive. But on warm sunny days they still venture out to gather pollen and nectar from the remaining ivy blossoms.
Ivy (Hedera helix) has an undeserved reputation for being invasive and causing damage. However it is one of the most important plants for wild life during early Autumn. It is not a parasite as is often believed and takes no goodness away from the tree up which it grows. Rather it provides vital roosting habitat for small birds and hibernating insects and also an important food source for both insects and birds at the back end of the year when there is very little else.
Mice can also be a problem at this time of the year. They will enter the hive to feast on the honey and wax. Quite often they are stung to death which means a nasty dead mouse at the bottom of the hive and of course lots of dead bees. The corpse of the poor mouse is then covered with Propolis a sticky substance that bees make from the resin of certain trees which mummifies it and prevents unsavoury smells in the hive which the bees object to. To overcome this we fit mouseguards on the hive entrance which allow the bees to come and go but is too small for a mouse to enter.
A bit of beelore
Bees have been revered since ancient times. Early man believed that honey bees where the messengers of the gods who led the souls of the deceased to heaven. Some of these souls then returned to earth as bees and only they, as messengers of the gods, where allowed to gather the honey.