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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Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter is coming

The weather coming next week is about to get our attention. High around 20 and lows hovering around zero. Now is the time to cover the hives and put on the moisture boards, if it hasn't been done yet. The following criteria is a summery of where we should be with the hive.
  • The hive has a young queen that has not been through a winter yet.
  • Hopefully everyone has 9 full frames of honey in their top box for winter stores.
  • A 1 " hole is drilled in the top box for winter exit.
  • Entrance reducer in with wide opening facing up.
  • The hives are protected from north and west, if this is a problem, hay bales can be stacked around 3 sides for a windbreak and a little more insulation.
  • Right now if you opened up the hive and took off the inner cover there should be no bees there. They should be down in the lower box. Maybe you can barely see them way down below the top frames. If bees are clustered under the inner cover there is not enough honey in the hive and they will more than likely not make it through the winter.
There is not much that can be done if the hive doesn't have enough food. If they are close to the proper amount, a candy board or sugar can be added to the top box that may save the day. Feeding syrup is difficult because bees can't get to the syrup, the syrup freezes, or the bees won't drink it because it is cold.
Bees can take on any subzero weather in Jan usually without any difficulties.
The danger period for colony survival is Feb. The queen will start laying by then and several days subzero weather in Feb can kill any colony if they are not on a frame of honey when it hits. The unlucky hive will starve even if honey is a frame away.
A quick peek in the hive before this type of weather hits, a beekeeper can move a frame of honey next to the cluster and possibly prevent the starvation.
For now the bees will be on their own. Hopefully the work we did in the fall will get them to spring and some well deserved pollen patties.

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