Winter Bee Hive Prep

October 1st

What has been done:

  1. Now that the goldenrod is almost done, it is winter bee hive prep time. I have installed entrance feeders on my two hives. With each hive, eight-frame, made up of 2 deeps and 1 medium already holding capped honey I feel the feeders are a “nice-to-have”. The bees will have this excess supply and not use as much honey for now and the bees may in fact fill in any empty sections on the frames. With the winters in upper New York lasting from December into April, I want to make sure food is available. When winter rears its head, the entrance feeders will be removed and a “candy board” will be added to the hive as “safety” stock.
  2. I removed the queen excluder. All the honey inside is for the bees at this point. The bees will move up and down the entire hive in the winter. By leaving the queen excluder in place the queen will be trapped underneath and if the cluster needs to move up past the excluder to access winter honey, I would lose the queen and ultimately the hive.
  3. I have Apivar strips in the hives for varroa control. I will use formic acid as an additional treatment later in October.
  4. My beekeeping friend is a firm believer in insulated hives in winter. In fact, he is a BeeMax Polystyrene Hive advocate, I however, use a wood hive with screen boards over bottom boards. I have closed the spaces between the screen and bottom board with foam seured in to make a tight fit. The goal is to close any unwanted drafts.

Still to do:

  1. When the hive feeders are removed, I will install the entrance reduces with the smaller notch facing upwards. I am trying it this way based on advice from the local bee supply store. As I was told, “Turning the entrance reducer so the opening faces upward will help keep the entrance open even if there are lots of dead bees on the floor of the hive”.
  2. When the entrance reducers are installed, I will put the mouse guards on. Again, as told, “As the bees start to cluster together, they pull away from guarding the entrance, mice can slip inside and make a mess, chewing on combs and relieving themselves”.
  3. A 1” thick piece of foam board will be laid on top of the inner cover and fitted to sit in the telescoping cover. Hopefully, the cover will help keep the interior of the hive warmer and drier. I have been told that the insulation can stay year-round, as it will keep the hive warmer in winter and cooler in the summer.
  4. A candy board will be installed just above the super for supplemental feeding. Spaces will be left for the bees to move up and use the telescoping cover to come and go. It will also allow moisture to exit the hive.
  5. Bricks will be placed on top of the outer cover to keep it on should winter winds be strong. Last thing I want is for the outer cover to be blown off.
  6. My friend is a firm believer in insulation, and he has been keeping bees for over 60 years.  I will cover each hive with EZ-On Hive Wrap, it is supposed to provide R-4 insulation properties. Last year I tried wrapping in foam insulation and frankly it was a pain to cut to size, tape the ends and tape to the hives. Hopefully, the EZ-On gives the bees an extra edge in the cold region I live in
  7. Last but not least, tip the hive slightly forward to allow any free moisture to drain out.

Hopefully the bees will come through the winter strong and ready for a new year of…being bees!!

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