As I approach my first winter in beekeeping the biggest hurdle yet to overcome is keeping my bees alive throughout the winter. Even the most experienced beekeepers struggle with this. So I’ve set some milestones for myself and will go into this season on purpose…so that if I completely blow it I’ll at least know what not to do next year.
My goal: have all 3 hives alive on April 1, 2013.
Going into the winter it is important to have plenty of stores for the bees. Ideally I’d like to have about 50 pounds of honey in the comb so that the bees have plenty to eat. It is also important to have a low verroa mite load so that the bees have a good chance of making it.
I checked my hives a few weeks ago and as usual…good news and bad news. The good news is that I seem to have a low mite count. In one hive I have 25 mites that dropped in a 24 hour period and on the other only 14. My target was less than 24 mites per 24 hour period….I think I’m good on this issue.
On stores…..not so much. Very little honey in the comb. 2 to 3 frames in one and less than that in the other. The nuc has maybe one full frame of honey.
My plan of action based on my hive inspection:
1) no mite treatment
2) Feed sugar water through Oct then switch to sugar and pollen patties.
The reason you cannot feed sugar water all winter is because the ambiant moisture is so high the bees would not be able to store the sugar water in the comb and then get it down to below 18% humidity. Anything above 18% and it will spoil giving the bees dysentery.
Above is a video showing how I built the sugar boards. A nice 1 day project to improve the chances your bees will survive the winter.