Each winter, there’s a patch of weather which furrows the beekeeper’s brow. The BBC’s weather forecast suggest that the high winds, sharp showers and zero degree temperatures forecast for the next 10 days look like being 2015’s pinch-point.
My beekeeping concerns are two-fold:
- My London hives are sitting on a fourth-storey roof parapet, fully exposed to the elements. They are heavy with stores, insulated with 100mm Celotex in their roofs, their brood boxes are wrapped in bubble-wrap, to keep the wet out and to offer a degree of insulation, they are lashed to metal D-rings with industrial-strength straps and they also have their varroa-boards in, to prevent gusts of wind ripping up through the open mesh floor to chill the brood box. For my urban hives, temperature loss in the winter cluster of bees through wind action is my main concern.
- On the Suffolk Coast, the hives have the same insulation and bubble-wrap epidermis. They sit on hive stands just 9 inches above the ground, strapped over heavy paving slabs in a sheltered spot in my garden. My main concern here is that the wind off the North Sea could be so savage that it will catch the hive walls like sails. My consternation for the rural hives is that they will “capsize”, or be blown over.
Now, let me take a step back into the world of probabilities. I haven’t suffered any hive upsets in any winter weather event in any previous year. But in this period of extended separation from the bees, the natural inclination of the beekeeper is to fret.
You can be sure that trepidation will be my constant companion until the end of this month.