When the mites have been treated, making sure I have enough food stores for winter is next on the agenda.
Actually, when putting on mite treatments is the time to check the food stores. Most of the mite treatments involve taking off the top deep honey box.
A feeding plan should be developed, and a plan made of when and how to feed at the same time when looking at food stores.
The top box needs to be pretty much full of honey for winter stores. As I take the top box off, there are two things I look and feel for. I feel for the weight of the box. This quickly tells me how heavy the box is. I then tip the box back and look at the bottom of the frames. A little smoke on the frames gets the bees off the bottom of the frames. I want to see capped honey to the bottom of the cells of the frames.
When bees fill honey frames, they start at the top of the frame and work their way down the frame. Just looking at the top of the box does not give an accurate description of the honey stores. Looking at the bottom of the frames, gives a true assessment of the amount of honey in the box.
Typically, the bees will fill the center core frames in the top box. The frames more towards the outside of the box may not be filled as much.
When I check for food in the box and determine the center frames are full and the outside frames are light on honey. I pull the center frames and move them to the outside and move the less full outside frames to the center. Then, when I feed, the bees are more likely to fill the center frames quickly. Bees never do a good job filling the outside frames.
Most mite treatments say you cannot feed during the treatment process, other than ApiVar. Feeding needs to be started and finished as fast as possible.
Feeding should not be dragged out for several weeks. As the colony is fed, the bees look at it as a nectar flow. During a nectar flow the queen is stimulated to lay eggs and produce brood. Beekeepers want the queen to stop making brood by early to mid October. Then a treatment of Oxalic Acid can effectively clean up any mites that are left on the bees. This leaves a hive as healthy as possible and ready for the rigors of winter.
Now here is the issue: If feeding continues late into the season, there will be brood in the colony for about a month after the feeding stops. As the colony makes brood, there is the opportunity for more mite reproduction. The bees also have to feed the brood and keep it warm.
Feeding late, say into October, a hive could have brood into November, sometimes as late as December. Caring for the brood will make the hive consume food, this can put a strain on a colony that needed more food to begin with.
As fall progresses towards winter, the cooler weather makes it more difficult to feed. The bees do not like cold syrup and may not take it anymore.
So get mite treatments done NOW.
There is work to finish to get the bees everything they need for winter. Beekeepers that get this done will be in much better shape for winter survival.