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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Saturday, October 11, 2008

The bee season 2008, my summary

The bees have been busy even in Oct.

The 2008 season got off to a tough start. The cold weather in Feb. caused widespread starvation of overwintering colonies. Those that made it past the cold snap were in most cases pretty good shape. Being they had decent numbers I expected those to build up nicely.
Then the package bee delivery accident put beekeeping on hold for most of us.
The spring did progress weather wise pretty decent until mid April. The weather was cold and ugly until almost June.
Package bees installed in mid April had a tough time getting going, some didn't make it at all. My package bees that came in late April then again the first week of May had a tough time fighting the cold weather. Package bees could not build up with the cold temps and brood rearing was hampered affecting colony population.
Pollen and nectar production was delayed. The season seemed about three weeks behind.
Over wintered colonies did not build up well at all. Failure to provide pollen patties by beekeepers aggravated this situation even more. Overwintered hives that had the population and pollen did expand ok. But with the season being off by three weeks reports of swarming were coming in. Peak population when there is no nectar caused this problem.
The package bees also had their populations suffer. As the weather got warmer there still was no pollen. If the beekeeper stopped providing pollen patties the queen in many cases stopped laying. There again impacting the population.
Finally things finally improved around the third week of June.
The nectar flow seemed to start in this area around July 10. About three weeks late. My bees by this time were still building up from spring. The plus side, my swarming was minimal, the downside, the bees finally looked nice about the first of August. My honey production was down a bit but better than I expected.
The late spring seemed to benefit the late package bee delivery salvaging the season. Bees that did build up early had swarming issues.
Reports from other beekeepers was mixed. Some say this was their best year ever. Others no excess honey. If the Basswood flow is a normal source of honey for some, they were left empty handed because the Basswood flow was slim to none.
Going into fall now populations seem good. The late flows seemed to fill up my colonies for winter stores.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

What I need to winter a colony of bees.

To bring a hive though winter we need the hive set up as follows.
  • At least 8 frames of adhering bees. Meaning there should be bees covering both sides of at least 8 frames.
  • A young queen that has not gone through a winter yet.
  • Bees that are as mite free as possible.
  • The hive should have been fed 2 gallons of syrup treated with Fumigilan.
  • The top box should have 8 full frames of honey and one partially full. The partial should be located in the middle of the top box. Do not put a partially filled super on top of the full deep box of honey. The bees may move up into the top deep then, move up into the super. The bees will starve even though the deep below still has honey.
  • Bees will not move down to get to honey in the winter.
  • If you don't have enough honey the choices are, add a candy board on top of the hive or add granulated sugar on top of the hive. See how I did this on my last January 2007 post.
  • A top entrance is required so the bees can go on cleansing flights during the winter.
  • If you have a screened bottom board, the slide drawer should be in.
  • The entrance reducer is in now to keep out mice. The large opening is installed upside down. It is upside down to keep the entrance open as hive debris collects on the bottom board throughout the winter.
  • A moisture release board is put on top of the inner cover.
  • Black cardboard winter cover is put over the top of the hive. A hole is cut where the upper entrance is located. One of the top flaps is folded down against the back of the hive. The other 3 flaps are folded over on top of the moisture board. This is very important, This is done to vent the moisture board and get rid of moisture buildup in the hive. A cardboard cover will cover two deep hive bodies. If you have 3 deeps, the bottom box will not be covered. This is not a problem. Cover the box with the telescoping cover. This will not fit over the winter cover. Rest the telescoping cover on top of the cardboard cover and place a rock or brick on top of it to hold it down. I cover my hives around Thanksgiving weekend, sooner if we are going to get dumped on with snow.
  • Don't over insulate the hive. This can cause an early demise of the hive. If the hive is to warm the bees may start rearing brood and run out of food.
  • A wind break is helpful on the north and west side of the hive. If the hives are in the open with no protection from winter winds. Stacking hay bales around these sides can be beneficial.
  • At the end of my video I mistakenly called the Telescoping Cover the moisture board. Steven Speilberg would be disappointed.

Click on the arrow to run video.