Rainy days and Sundays always get me down when I can not garden!
Sunday, November 13, 2016
WHAT GOES UP MOST COME DOWN!
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