Colonies have been looking good with nice hive populations. Mite levels on overwintered colonies have been very high and most need to be treated if they are going to survive the winter. New package bees installed in the spring, mite loads are mixed, many have had small mite loads, some with higher mite loads need to be treated.
Some beekeepers have told me that their hives are heavy with winter stores while others say they need to get their hives up to wintering weight.
In a perfect beekeeping world a hive set up for winter should be:
- The top box should have 8 full frames of honey and one partially full frame located in the center. Some beekeepers did a reversal too late in early summer and put the heavy box on the bottom, this heavy box needs to be on the top.
- Middle box on a three high hive or the bottom box on a two high hive should have four frames of honey. Two on the outside on either side.
- Bottom box on a three high hive should have two frames of honey one on each side on the very outside of the box.
- Do not leave a partially filled box of honey on top of the hive. The bees may move up into it in late winter and starve, even though there is honey below in the lower box.
The goal is to have the bees shut down brood production before winter sets in. If brood is present late into early winter, the bees will consume more of their food stores keeping the brood warm. This can lead to late season starvation.