Exclusive Advice with Beekeeper Kasper

At this time of the year, the bees should be feed and treated for varroa before the winter. We are getting first frosts and there isn’t much for the bees to forage on.

By the beginning of this month, we should make sure the hives have enough food for wintering. I am wintering hives on double brood. The top brood box should be pretty much full of stores, if that’s not the case, I am feeding bees with liquid feed before the weather turns cold and the bees won’t take syrup from the feeders very well. If you are wintering on single brood boxes, make sure they feel heavy by hefting the hives.

Summer treatment also should be done by now, but don’t worry too much if you haven’t got around to do it yet. If you have used apitraz or apistan strips they should be removed after 6-8 weeks. There is still time to treat your bees for varroa with oxalic acid in December/January.

Earlier this month on a sunny warm day, I have walked around the hives at NBS apiary, and I was able to smell the ivy nectar coming from the hives. Ivy honey has got very strong medicinal flavour which is unique – and maybe not to everyone’s taste!

I am putting mouse guards over the entrance to protect the hives from rodents over the winter. For hives close to woodlands, I also add protection from birds. Watch how I do this in our YouTube tutorial:

October Honey Recipe by Gill Meller:

So much of the food I like to eat is improved by placing it on toast. If you’ve ever had last night’s curry on thickly buttered toast, then you’ll know exactly what I mean. Warm fish pie on toast is another case in point; lasagne, mashed potato – I could go on. These damsons on toast, sort of like jam on steroids, are amazing. I like a few spoonfuls on top of thickly sliced goat’s cheese, but they would work well with some crumbly Cheddar or a soft, blue-veined cheese, or simply on their own. If you can’t get hold of damsons, you can do the same thing with plums.

Damsons on Toast with Honey, Star Anise, Chilli, Thyme and Goat's Cheese

Author: Gill Miller


  • 300g (7oz) damsons or small plums
  • 1 tbsp runny honey, plus extra taste if needed
  • 1 star anise
  • ½ red chilli (not overly spicy), deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 1 rosemary sprigs
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough or good country bread
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 400g (14oz) soft goat's cheese
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Halve the damsons or plums and remove the stones. If they are stubborn, use the tip of the knife to tease them out. Place the damsons in a pan with the honey, star anise, chilli, thyme, rosemary and 2 tablespoons of water and a little salt and pepper. Set the pan over a medium heat and bring the fruit up to the simmer. Cook, stirring regularly, until the fruit is breaking down and soft. If you need to add a dash more water at any point to help the damsons or plums along, then do.
  • When the fruit is soft and you have a syrupy compote (about 8–10 minutes), take the pan off the heat. Have a taste and adjust the sweetness, if you like, with a trickle more honey.
  • Toast the bread until it’s crunchy and golden. Place the toast on plates and trickle each piece with a little of the olive oil. Slice the goat’s cheese thickly into 12, and place 3 slices on each piece of warm toast. Trickle over the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the damsons over the top of the cheese and serve at once.

Order Gill’s Time Cookbook for more recipes or follow @gill.meller on Instagram.

Photography: Andrew Montgomery


Header Image by Lorna Wall.