Our Hives in January
During this month there is very little to do in the apiary; the bees will all be in a cluster during cold spells and during these, we seize the opportunity and treat them with dilute oxalic acid in an attempt to control the dreaded Varroa mite. This has to be done when the bees are in the hive and there is little or no brood
present. If we left it later the weather could warm up and the queen would start to lay. Its a job that has to be done quickly so that the girls don’t get chilled. So its off with the lid and cover board and gently dribble the mixture between the occupied frames, usually five, and back on with the board and lid.
Being deep in the countryside we are always on the watch at this time of year for the larger pests. These are badgers, they will destroy a whole apiary in search of honey, Green Woodpeckers that bore holes in the side of the hive to get at the bees and now we are blessed with deer that can and we think did in the summer, knock over the hives.
But still when the sun shines there is a slight feeling of spring in the air and birdsong particularly the Tits, changes. But even these little charmers eat bees…….Ah well.
A bit of bee lore
January is always wet, cold and frosty and gardeners waterproofed their boots with beeswax mixed with mutton suet, boiled linseed oil and resin. It was brushed in while the mixture was still warm and while they were still dry and clean. This method also kept the leather soft and supple.