We have successfully fed our 3 hives the syrup in which the anti-bee-diarrhea (nosema) medications were dissolved. Now- in general, we are crunchy-granola types in a lot of ways, and we are interested in organic beekeeping methods. But yet- at this point, we’re even more interested in doing what we can to ensure our girls overwinter successfully, and while we debated the issue, we decided that the nosema meds were a sensible thing to do this year.
We are also feeding syrup, to do what we can to make sure they have all the stores they can handle. And in another few weeks, we’ll be wrapping the hives in hive covers- insulation, to help them stay warm. The girls need to be at roughly 80F all winter, and even higher once the queens start laying again. While usually our temperatures don’t get that low, we’ve been seeing a week or so of below-zero temps most winters- and that could kill our girls, so we’re doing what we can to help them out.
At this point Mary is not all that keen on syrup. Yeah, she’ll take some- but not all that much per day. Liz and Susan are still swigging it down, though, so we have another 2 10-pound sacks of sugar awaiting syrup-making. In general, while cool temperatures slow tham down, the feeders we have do go into the hive, so they can feed even when it’s chilly (but not really cold) outside.
If we get another day with the temps in the 60s, we should do a quick hive inspection. And if the girls have outer frames that aren’t filled with honey and/or syrup, we might want to replace such with in-hive feeders that hold a gallon of syrp each. Italians aren’t as clever at getting to food in the winter as Russians are, but if they have not packed their hives with stores, we can supplement them.
We have tentatively decided not to plan on buying more bees next year. We’re not sure if we can build a top-bar hive overÂ the winter- and I am quite keen on trying one of them! Plus- this summer all 3 hives are likely to swarm, so we will be getting into the joys of swarm management… and that often means splitting a hive, and thereby increasing the number one has.
We also need to think about re-queening. Overwintering will be a test of our strains! but so far, we have to give Mary props for being insanely productive and pretty mellow. Liz is productive but more stroppy- not aggressive, because she really only objects to being messed with and calms down quickly when we stop- but she’s definitely touchy. Susan is mellow but not especially productive. If we had more hives, or if there were more honeybees around, I’d be interested in breeding Mary. I am definitely keen on propagating her genes if we can! But if we requeen with purchased bees, at this point it looks like Susan’s the one we want to do, possibly with someone with some Russian in her, and maybe Liz- though the Russians seem to be stroppy in general, so I’m not sure we’d get a benefit there!
It would be so cool to have enough land that we could have 50 hives or so, and really do some breeding!
Next year we also want to get some equipment for extracting honey- if we don’t this year.