“Now all in the apiary is cold and grey
And stillness fills the air.
There’s no hint of the life that hides within,
But the bees wait quietly there”
― A Winter Apiary, Liz Westcott
Although February is a very quiet month in the apiary, it’s a great time to prepare for the upcoming beekeeping season. In this month’s newsletter we introduce you to our resident beekeeper, Kasper, who shares his expertise for beekeeping in February. You will also discover the recipe for a delicious banana and honey loaf, the perfect warming treat to enjoy this month.
New for 2021: Exclusive Advice with Beekeeper Kasper
A brand new addition to our 2021 newsletter is advice from our expert beekeeper, Kasper. With a passion for nature and bees, Kasper owned his first few hives at 14 years old, and progressed to studying beekeeping for four years at college. After gaining his qualifications, Kasper worked as a commercial apiarist in Austria, Germany and Poland, putting his studies into practice before working as a head beekeeper in the UK, running an impressive 1,200 hives. Kasper has been a passionate and valuable member of the National Bee Supplies team since June 2020.
Kasper’s February Beekeeping Tips:
- It’s best not to touch hives very often to avoid disturbing the bees. However, this month, keep checking your hives for any external damage caused by animals or weather.
- Make sure your mouse guard is placed correctly across the entrance. If you haven’t had a chance to put something heavy on the top of the hive or strap it down with a ratchet strap, it is still a good idea to do so as they can be blown away by winter gales. Don’t forget to check on your hives after stormy weather.
- February is still not too late to treat your bees for varroa destructor using Api-Bioxal or our new product which comes premixed and is very easy to apply – VarroMed
- In February, at the National Bee Supplies apiary, I will heft all the hives very gently to check the stores. During this time of year, it is too cold to feed bees liquid feeds. Instead, it’s best to use in the winter is ambrosia paste. By the end of the month if the weather gets warmer I will start spring stimulating with apipasta plus.
If the hive seems very light and there are concerns colony might need feeding to make sure bees won’t starve, I lift the roof and crown board gently using a little bit of cool smoke. Depending on how low cluster of bees is situated on the frames there is two ways of putting fondant on.
One way, when the bees are lower on the frames, is to place candy directly on the top of the frames (under the cover board). For this method I would recommend to use eke or empty super.
If the top of the cluster is on the top of the frames, and the bees are sitting on the top bars, it is better to place fondant over the hole in the cover board. Either way will make sure bees have easy access to the food.
Warm Banana and Honey Bread
- 250 g Plain Flour
- 1 tsp Bicarb
- Pinch of Salt
- 115 g Butter
- 115 g Muscovado sugar
- 2 Eggs
- 450 g Banana
- 100 g Sultanas
- 3 tbsp Honey
- Preheat the oven to 170C/fan 150C/gas 5 and grease a small loaf tin with a small amount of butter.
- Combine the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl.
- Cream together the butter and brown sugar until pale. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then the bananas, sultanas and the 1tbsp of honey.
- Stir banana mixture into the flour mixture, combining until moist. Pour mixture into your small loaf tin, and decorate as you wish.
- Bake for one hour or until a cake tester comes out of the cake clean. Leave to stand in the tin for at least 10 minutes before turning out on to a cooling rack and allowing to stand until cool.
- To enjoy your banana and honey bread warm, heat up for a couple minute in the oven. Once warm, drizzle the remainder of the honey over the bread, and enjoy!