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, December 3, 2016

Winter Patties

Now is the time to put winter patties on the hive. Winter patties are an emergency food that can save a colony from starvation in February. The patties can be put on now, when it is easy to get to the hive. Winter Patties are emergency food and will not keep a colony alive that has four frames of honey in the hive right now.
 Winter patties are basically sugar. What happens in February, the queen starts laying eggs. The bees will keep the brood around 96 degrees no matter what the outside temperature is. The bees feed the brood and consume honey to keep the brood warm. So the consumption of honey increases. As the bees deplete honey around the brood, the bees will move out further away from the brood to get at more honey. The brood never moves, so the bees may have to move one or two frames away from the brood to full frames of honey.
 Now if it gets cold in February to near zero or below for two to three nights, the cluster of bees contract into a tighter cluster to keep the brood warm. The bees now in a tighter cluster, pull off the frame of available honey. The cluster is producing heat and feeding the brood now have no food. If the cold snap lasts a couple days, the colony can starve because they have no food.
 By having winter patties on the top bars of the top box, the cluster can reach this sugar and have feed during this cold snap.
Winter patties are a good investment that can save a colony and save on the purchase of more bees in the spring.
Winter patties are put on in pairs, I usually check them on February 1st and also before a February cold snap to see if they have been consumed and add more as needed. A hive can be opened in the winter to check on patties. This will not hurt the colony.
Patties are $2.50 each, a 10 lb box is $20.00. They also come in a 40 lb box.
Winter patties are put on in pairs on the top box right under the inner cover. They look like a pollen patty, but they contain mostly sugar and will not stimulate brood production.