Fondant fancies

My colonies are all busy piling in the calories in preparation for winter. As always, at this time of the year I only feed my colonies using bakers fondant. This is exactly the same stuff you get on the top of iced buns. It’s available plastic-wrapped and boxed in 12.5kg blocks from a variety of […]

Fondant topups

Perhaps surprisingly if the weather is still very wintery, inside your hives brood rearing has probably started . It’s about half way through the winter, there’s no forage available and the colonies are surviving on the stores they laid down in the autumn last year. But now they have a few more mouths to feed … […]

Fife’s fondant mountain

A little later in the year than usual due to work commitments … In late August 2014 I described how I feed my bees fondant in the autumn. It’s a simple, quick, clean and efficient way to feed colonies. Additionally, I’m reasonably convinced that there are advantages for the bees as well as the beekeeper. […]

Feeding fondant

With the season nearly over, now is the time to feed the colonies well and treat for mites so they have the best chance of overwintering successfully. I almost exclusively use fondant blocks for autumn feeding. I prefer feeding fondant to using syrup or Ambrosia for several reasons: I don’t have to spend hours over the stove […]

Leftover fondant

If you feed fondant rather than syrup in the autumn, or provide underweight colonies fondant in the spring, or use fondant to feed mini-nucs for queen rearing you’ll inevitably end up with leftover lumps. Some of these will be dry and pitted, some will have bits of bees embedded, some will have brace comb or lumps […]

Weed and feed

Weed and feed is a generic term that describes the treatment of lawns to simultaneously eradicate certain weeds and strengthen the turf. It seemed an appropriate title for a post on eradicating mites from colonies and feeding the bees up in preparation for the winter ahead. Arguably these are the two most important activities of […]

More gentle beekeeping

I’ve done less beekeeping this year than any time in the past decade. The Covid-19 lockdown enforced changes to the way we live and work, meaning my contact with the bees has been ‘big and infrequent’ rather than ‘little and often’.  ‘Big and infrequent’ meaning a day or three of intense activity every month or […]

The new normal

For many, beekeeping associations provide the bookends that bracket the practical beekeeping season. In meetings during the dark, wet, cold winter months we can at least discuss bees, reminisce about the season just gone or plan for the season ahead. Usually with tea and biscuits 🙂 Or in the more civilised associations (and a quick […]

Bigging up nucs

The phrase bigging up [somebody or something] means saying they are very good, usually in public . It is slang and used informally and usage has increased significantly in the last couple of decades. The term bigging in bigging up meaning promotion, is relatively new. However, the same word can be traced back to Middle English and […]

Bees in the time of corona

We are living in interesting times. The coronavirus pandemic has, in the space of a week, dramatically changed the structure and interactions of society. What impact will the coronavirus pandemic have on beekeeping? It depends upon your experience and preparation. Social distancing will impact mentoring, sales and – if extended to lockdowns – access to your colonies. If you are just beginning you will probably have to do without a mentor. You may struggle to source colonies for sale if imports are restricted for any reason. However, there are likely to be more swarms and deploying bait hives might stop the bees bothering other people. Although there are lots of certainties in the beekeeping season – mites, swarms, honey – this year looks like being very uncertain and very unusual.