Friday, March 23, 2012

Treatments and wintering the hive

It's past time for preparing for winter. Sorry for the late post which should have been in the beginning of March (4 weeks before Autumn kicks in). Here is a brief list of things to do:
  • Take the eating honey off the hive. Should have already been done. The nectar collected is eaten by the bees.
  • Treat for varroa. Do now if not started yet!!!. Hopefully the queen lays during the treatment and these new bees will be varroa free!
  • If in a cold area insulate the hive. Bees eat less and die less in a warm dry hive.
  • Make the entrance smaller (<7 mm) so that mice do get in.
 If your honey is still not capped here are tips.
1. Add a feeder and feed the bee sugar water. They will finish the honey off, if they are well feed.
2. Create a robbing situation. Uncapped honey is robbed down (if it is warm enough).

Mark any honey frames you leave on while treating, so that you don't accidental eat this honey. The frame is contaminated until the wax is changed. We feed our bees, if needed, during treatment and then give them back the honey boxes we took off.

Insulation of the hive
For a strong, healthy hive there nothing special that needs to happen, besides clean air and sunshine.

For a small hive and/or a cold place:
1. Keep the hive in the sun as much as possible. (I.e. move it if needed)
2. Have good ventilation (e.g. hole at bottom and top to allow air flow). Dry air is easier to heat by the bees than damp air. Water condensation and water dripping inside indicates bad ventilation.
3. Replace outer frames (or the wrap the outside of the box) with polystyrene or a hot water cylinder wrap, or that favourite woollen jersey. Make sure the bees can't eat the polystyrene by lining with corflute.

We haven't insulated any of our hives and don't plan to. But if you get regular frosts then it is worth thinking about how hard is it for the bees to keep warm.

Snow is an insulator so this is not really an issue (for the one or two days of snows we get a year).

Please add your comments on other things you do to winter down the hive.


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