OK beekeepers, winter preparations are under way. This is the to do list.
- Pull and Extract honey
- Treat for mites ASAP
- Feed your bees
- Entrance reducers go in if robbing is a problem or if the temperatures start cooling off.
This is a list of what not to do
- Do not feed pollen to the bees
- Do not feed late
- Do not wait to treat for mites
Mite treatments need to get done as soon as possible. If you are doing mite counts and only seeing one or two mites in a sample, you need to treat. If you don't treat, your next mite sample in mid September will have 10 mites in the sample. The hive population falls this time of year, but the mite population explodes. Get in front of the mites not behind. Damage to your bees will be happening soon and the hive may not be able to recover.
Do not feed pollen to your bees. Bees this time of year will start to shift gears and start to make Winter Bees. Winter Bees have a different physiology than summer bees. Winter Bees have the ability to store more fat. It is this phenomena that helps the bees survive the rigors of winter. It is the scarcity of pollen that makes the bees shift to producing Winter Bees. If you feed pollen to your bees, there will no dearth in pollen. Maybe there will be no winter bees in your hive and the bees set to winter will not be prepared for the onslaught of cold weather. Plus with pollen on the hive, the bees may make too many bees and the bees will starve by eating all their winter stores too quickly.
Feeding, I like having a hive heavy with honey going into winter. I think it helps the bees get through winter with less stress on the hive. But with fall feeding, you do not want to feed for a month. The feeding should be done quickly. Longer and later feeding leads to more mites in the hive. Longer feeding keeps brood in the hive longer. Late brood in the hive, makes for ineffective Oxalic Acid treatments in late October. Get the hive topped off and filled with honey. To do this, multiple feeders should be employed. If you fed your bees with jars with holes in the lids, don't use them. Fall feeding is like feeding the Conehead family. Give the bee family mass quantities of syrup. My favorite feeder for fall feeding is a hive top feeder. It holds four gallons of syrup. The bees can empty if in about four days. The other way to feed is multiple feeder pails placed directly on the frames top bars. This is three gallons of syrup and the bees will empty the pails in about three days. In the fall I like using ProSweet bee syrup. ProSweet is similar to honey, the bees do not have to dehumidify it. The bees take down the ProSweet and put the syrup in the comb and they are done. 2:1 Sugar syrup on the other hand, the bees take it down, then have to turn it to honey and lower the humidity. More work on their part. With ProSweet if you give the bees four gallons of syrup, that will be the equivalent of about 45 lbs of honey. Now if you give the bees four gallons for 2:1 sugar syrup, after the bees dehumidify the sugar syrup and turn it to honey, you may end up with 36 lbs of honey. Quite a difference and more work for the beekeeper.
The bee season is changing quickly, beekeepers need to get after it to get the hives ready for winter.