An Austrian beekeeper has explained why warm autumns are a concern for his trade.
Herbert Grafl heads the Association of Beekeepers in Burgenland, eastern Austria.
Herbert – who runs an organic apiary in his hometown of Schattendorf, told broadcaster ORF: “Beekeepers usually start to prepare their colonies for winter immediately after removing the last batch of honey. It’s important to act swiftly to save the bees from getting confused.”
The unusually mild temperatures of the past weeks have tempted the social insects to foray into various intermediate plants, according to the beekeeping association president.
Herbert warned: “The colonies could end up with a lack of space inside the hive due to the additional amounts of nectar stashed in the combs.”
The apiarist also underlined the continuing threat posed by varroa destructor, a widespread parasite. According to Herbert, the mite is spreading quickly due to the relatively mild winter of 2021/2022.
Varroa mites reproduce by attaching to the body of the bee. The pollinator gets weaker as the mite sucks its fat-storage cells.
Herbert urged his colleagues not to forget to check on their hives on a regular basis so they can interfere in case of varroa infestation.
There are currently around 680 beekeepers in Burgenland, according to Herbert.
The eastern province – which borders Slovakia, Hungary and Slovenia – has around 298,000 inhabitants.