It is winter now with shorter days and colder nights.
The end of one beekeeping season is the best time to review the year and start planning for the next.
Inside the Hive
Queen bees will have reduced their egg laying to a minimum now and may have stopped completely for winter but it is not unusual for them to continue if conditions provide an income of nectar.
Our best hope for our colonies in winter is inactivity so they save their energy for spring. A cold winter is rarely a problem for the bees in their winter cluster provided they have adequate food stores.
Outside the Hive
The number of bees seen flying will decrease as the ambient temperature drops at this time of year.
It is always heart warming to see pollen being brought back home.
There is also a lot that can be learned from identifying the pollen loads to determine what flowers the bees are working in your area - local knowledge is important.
Snow is not a problem unless it is deep enough to cover and block the hive entrances when it must be removed.
In the Apiary
The colony should not be disturbed beyond the necessities of Varroa monitoring unless the weather allows i.e. >16°C, calm and dry.
At this time of year mice will try to enter bee hives so reduce the size of entrances to guard against intruders.
Secure the roof against the wind if necessary.
Ensure the hive is in good order to be left and any spare equipment is sterilised and stored away.
In the Garden
Any planting for bees is best done in drifts if possible, as in nature, a few plants may not provide the attractant needed for the bees to find them.
In the Wild
There is very little in flower at the moment.
Wherever Gorse or Furze grows there is an old saying, kissing is not in favour when Furze is not in flower when, of course, flowers can be found on Gorse all year round. It provides no nectar but the bees will visit it to collect pollen.
N.B. Remember that every year is different, every locality is different and no two colonies are the same so every hive should be treated as an individual and managed accordingly.