Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Falling temperatures, shorter days and longer nights tells us that the current year is coming to an end. Nectar and pollen are becoming more and more scarce and the activity in the hive slows. The queen reduces or stops laying eggs, old bees die off, and drones are kicked out of the hive. “Winter bees” hunker down with one goal “survival”.  Winter may designate the end of the growing season but it actually marks the beginning of the New Year in beekeeping. And the condition of the colony going into winter will help determine the outcome/success the fallowing spring. A healthy hive free of disease with plenty of food stores, and a strong Queen helps with survival. As beekeepers we can also help the bees prepare for winter by reducing the size of the hives themselves.  During the spring and summer the hive grows quickly and so does the need for space. Boxes holding frames are added to accommodate this growth. Some of the frames/boxes are used for brood while others are used for the storage of honey (supers). But as October roles around and the bee population starts to decline, multiple boxes stacked on top of each other is not ideal. Especially if those boxes contain empty waxed frames or unused comb. The threat of swarming has passed (hopefully) so more bees can cover less frames in a smaller space. Condensing or “tightening up” the hive by removing unused frames and boxes makes it easier for the bees to maintain the temperature of their cluster (around 92 degrees), conserving the bees energy and food consumption. How much to compact the hive is a judgment call by the beekeeper.  Once the bees are tucked away for winter and snow starts to fall we can only hope we did our best. Come spring the days will be getting longer, the temperatures start to climb and hopefully our bees will emerge from their hives!


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