This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

What's happening in the hive right now

This latest stretch of warm weather has come at the right time. This is the time of year when bees move from the lower box into the top box. The warm weather makes it easy for the bees to make this transition. I talked to some beekeepers who said their hives were heavy with honey going into the winter. They told me their bees had not moved up yet.
 While some other beekeepers told me their bees had already moved up into the top box and they were not sure if the bees had enough food for late winter.
 There should not be any egg laying going on yet. I hope that the high 30's that we will be experiencing does not get the queen to start laying. If the colony starts making brood, honey consumption will increase. If a colony is light on food starvation may occur.
 The queen will start laying and the bees will eat honey to keep the brood warm. This extra consumption of honey will deplete honey stores around the brood. The bees will then move out to nearby frames to acquire honey to keep the brood warm.
 This all works well as long as there is honey to get and the weather stays warm. If the weather gets very cold, the bee cluster contracts to concentrate their heat cluster. The bees cluster around the brood doing everything they can to keep the brood warm. If the bees have depleted their honey stores around the brood and the cluster contracts off of nearby honey stores, starvation can happen.
A beekeepers can go out on a warm day and quickly open a hive and move or add a frame of honey next to the cluster. Don't disrupt the cluster. A full frame of honey is usually enough honey to feed a colony for about three weeks. A little less if there is brood rearing going on.
 Emergency feeding methods can be taken to try to get a colony to survive. A candy board, winter patties, or granulated sugar can be added to the top bars for emergency feed.
 Checking a hive for food stores in winter

feeding granulated sugar on top of wax paper. A 1-1/2" shim is used to give room to heap up sugar. You don't need the cross bars.

Heap up granulated sugar. The bees will move up on the sugar and chew up the wax paper as the cluster moves and consumes the sugar. Check it after two weeks and add more if needed. It is easy to heap up 10 to 15 lbs of sugar on top of the wax paper. Don't cover the cluster of bees, they need to be able to get up on the wax paper. 
 Candy board one method. Don't add any pollen