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Heading toward Winter: winter bee-keeping preparations begin

16th September 2007

Heading toward Winter: winter bee-keeping preparations begin

posted in Our Hives |

Tomorrow we plan on robbing the bees. We’ve had excluders between the main hive and the honey supers for a bit now, and we need to remove the supers (with their honey), consolidate the hives, check them out (to the extent that we can), and probably start feeding them again to give them stores with which to go into the winter.

Also, there’s a bee-diarrhea disease that they are susceptible to in the winter, and we can put the preventative into the syrup we give them now.

(By the way- I am not totally committed to being 100% organic with the bees. I would prefer being as organic as possible- but I also want to give them the best possible chance of succesfully overwintering. I will probably head more toward 100% organic as my confidence grows.)

Justin washed off the solid bottoms that go into our fancy bottom boards today, and replaced them in the hives. (We got bottom boards that have a mesh bottom, with a solid insert that can be added or removed. It’s helpful both in controlling mites, and in keeping the hives cooler in the heat of summer.) The girls did not give him a hard time with this- thank goodness!

Justin got hive wrap for the girls. It’s an insulating wrap that we’ll put on the hives when it gets cold. Our winters are mostly mild- but lately we’ve usually had a week or so of really bitter weather, and I’m hoping the hive wrap will help them get through that.

We pulled the queen excluders out of 2 of our hives a week or so ago. They’ve got fascinating meanders of comb along them (we let the girls rob back the honey that was in them before we took them). Justin got some pictures- I’ll be posting those when I have a chance (probably with pictures of the next step, too!).

One thing we’re thinking about is our plans for next year. Do we want another hive? More than one more? I know that one couple who had decided that they didn’t want a hive in their yard this year are regretting that decision… but I don’t know if they’d make the same decision next year! Personally, I’d like to try a top-bar hive; it’s one where the bees themselves decide what sizes to make the cells, and where to do it, and I find the prospect of trusting them that much- and not being a control freak!- to be intriguing. That’s one I’d like to keep here, though, so we could keep an eye on it.

Also: next year we’re looking at swarming, re-queening, and all that stuff. Of our three hives- Mary is rockin’. She’s very productive, and pretty benign. Susan is benign, but substantially less productive than Mary and Liz- though she’s par for the course in the normal state of things; it’s just that the others have overachieved. Liz is productive but overly stroppy- one of the things that has made me nervous about doing much with the girls. So Liz and Susan are good candidates for re-queening, but we’re happy with Mary, so we might want to let her raise a new queen- except that we don’t exactly have a wide selection of genetic stock for the drones! Still- might be interesting.

Plus- if we wanted another hive or 2, we may want to buy a package and queen. Or maybe not; we need to contemplate the various options. But if we did- do we want more Italians? Russians? or ??? We also need to think about this in terms of re-queening. I’m rather thinking that we should move toward Russians- except that they’re stroppier than Italians, and I’m still nervous around the girls. Decisions, decisions!

-Amanda

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This entry was posted on Sunday, September 16th, 2007 at 12:09 am and is filed under Our Hives. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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