IN our latest report from Jack Mummery of the North Devon Beekeepers Society, he explains how bees have prepared to survive the winter months.
"Honey bees do not hibernate in the winter like some animals but form a cluster, keeping each other warm and protecting the queen.
"Honey bees in the summer will live for about six weeks if they are lucky; they wear themselves out gathering nectar and pollen. Winter bees, however, are different. From July the queen will start to reduce her egg laying rate and by the autumn the worker bees will start to increase their fat reserves, preparing themselves to live for six months, or until there are enough new bees in the spring to continue the colony.
"By the end of October the workers will have killed all the male bees or drones as their services are no longer wanted.
"The only role the drones perform is to mate with a new queen and by October it is very unlikely a colony will produce a new queen so the drones are dispensed with; a lot less mouths to consume the precious stored food.
"Bee colonies should be well fed and entrances protected with mouse guards. Mice like the comfort and the free food that a bee hive affords, but they can destroy good wax comb and eat most of the stored honey."
A beginner beekeeping course will be held during the spring, beginning in March 2014. For details email cath email@example.com.