Monday morning. I’d slept reasonably well considering it’s a strange bed, but could hear the motorway all night. Although I had the blind fully down, some light was getting in from the floodlights on the lawn. I had been hoping for a dark sky so I could do some astronomy and had a small planisphere with me but those lights would have spoiled the night sky. As it happened, it was mostly cloudy anyway, but I did see the moon briefly between clouds at about 4am.
After getting dressed, I was hungry for breakfast although I had eaten well last night. I anticipated putting on weight during the week! Breakfast was mainly porage and yoghurt – the lightest meal of the day nowadays. Once upon a time, before regime change, there had been a proper full Irish breakfast, well fried.
Then I went to the first Senior Lecture: Noel Power on Understanding Your Bees During the Winter Season. I was a little disappointed at the lecture which, to me, seemed to be aimed more at the Intermediate level.
His list of winter needs included: strong in bees, sufficient usable stores (ivy is rock hard), young queens, disease free, predator protection (mouseguards), sound dry hives with ventilation, sheltered dry site. He went on to say that insulating hives is useless but they should be placed where they get some sunshine every day.
I agree with the last point but not with some of the others. UK and Irish bees must have overwintered largely on ivy honey for the last 10,000 years! They do, however, need some water to dilute it and so dry, ventilated, hives are not necessarily a good idea! Insulation under the roof is probably helpful though.
I remember once opening a National, cedar, hive one winter afternoon when the sun was shining on the side. I noticed, by sliding a hand down inside the sunny and the shaded side, how much warmer it was on the sunny side. This must enable bees to enlarge their cluster and reach stores, thus avoiding isolation starvation.