The queen will be laying 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
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: buy a wax scraper/remover for the frame sides.
Blowlamp your spare solid floors (which should have been replaced by varroa screen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. Canadian clearer board. Dummy boards. Swarm or Horsley board.
Taranov board. Hive stand.
Feeders – one for each hive and one for the nucleus hive.
You need 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.
Paint the insides of spare brood and supers with a water-based microporous varnish.
Replace one or more of your zinc queen excluders by a wire excluder with wood surround.
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.