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Monthy Tasks - Winter to January

• The queen will be laying as it gets warmer and the brood will need food and warmth; a piece of polystyrene 25 – 50 mm thick placed over the crown board under the roof will help to keep heat in.
• Check floor for signs of a mouse getting into the hive, such as large pieces of wax on the ground at the hive entrance. Lift the cover board and smell; an ammoniacal smell of acetamide indicates a mouse. If you have a mouse in the hive get rid of it by lifting the brood box.
• Make up frames but leave the wax fitting until March.
• Clean old frames.
• Blowlamp your spare solid floors (which should have been replaced by varroa screen floors), spare cover boards and brood boxes.
• Make up new equipment such as:
• Spare crown boards. Dummy boards. Snelgrove board. Hive stand.
• Feeders – one for each hive and one for the nucleus hive.
• You need about 50% more equipment than you have as occupied hives. A spare brood box for every two occupied hives (for artificial swarming or shook swarms), and a nucleus hives (one for two hives) so you can remove the queen when required etc.
• Clean the smoker and queen excluders.
• Unblock entrances if they get snowed up.
• Check to see wind or animals have not overturned the hives. If they are overturned, reassemble the hives and give them a feed on top of the frames.
• Woodpeckers can be deterred with small mesh wire wrapped around the hives.
• Feeding candy, to make up for your autumn deficiencies, should be placed on the frames above the cluster.
• Review the hive positions re sun and wind; this can be a good time to move a hive within the apiary.
• Check the varroa screen below the brood box for fallen varroa. See DEFRA leaflet “Managing Varroa” for treatment with oxalic acid.
• Buy a 2ft square paving slab as a base for one hive. Put the base in place and level after a month on the ground.
• Read as many books on beekeeping as possible – if nothing else it will serve to show you how many ways there are of doing the same thing!

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