Happy Fall to All of our BYBA Members,
As we wind down our beekeeping season we need to continue to judiciously assess our hives and either make critical decisions or micro-adjustments to our colonies.
For many, this time of year means we need to feed, feed, feed our honey bees. Because of a variety of things, most notably the weather, many of our hives are coming up short by way of their “fall/winter food stores”. We also need to have an ample population of bees in our hives right now. And we must perform mite count checks and treat appropriately so that our bees have the best chance of surviving, and even thriving, through to Spring 2022.
As a baseline, we like to see 60 pounds of honey stored for typical 10-frame deeps. When we look inside our hives, if we see a whole lot of empty cells, we need to get on a rigorous course of feeding right now. This means feeding a 2:1 Sugar Syrup to our hives.
Don’t be surprised if you feed them one day, and a few days later all of the syrup has been taken….if so, feed them some more. This time of year you have to look inside every few days. We have a very short window before the cold weather may come, at which point our bees may stop taking the syrup.
For colonies that have a very small population, you may want to combine this hive with a stronger colony. Always place the weaker colony on top of the stronger one placing a newspaper between the two colonies so that they can slowly adapt to each other and so that the pheromones combine slowly, as they break through the paper separation. You will have to remove the queen from the weaker colony.
As we make all of the various adjustments to our hives, try to remember this…consolidate by placing the best frames of honey and bees all in one deep (box). With stronger hives having substantially greater populations of bees and honey and brood, you can have a two-deep (box) colony. Of course, there needs to be enough room for the food stores and the bees to move around but by no means just have empty frames, or frames without comb in your consolidated nest.
Mouse guards are needed on all of your hives now as well. The cooler evenings we have had lately are bringing mice into the warmer spaces and the last thing you want is to have a mouse take up residence in your colony.
Remember also, that most heat escapes from the roof of your hive so you should consider an insulation board inside your outer cover. Wrapping your hives is a personal decision, but I find is a great way to reduce winter winds/drafts, and can assist your bees as they work hard to maintain a warmer temperature in the colony.
Reach out to your mentor, fellow beekeeper, or BYBA board with any questions. We enjoy answering them and helping you in any way possible in your beekeeping journey!
President BYBA 2021