October 19, 2010

State of the Hive: Winterization Procedures

We haven't seen any drones for at least a month and the population is definitely down, but the girls are still pretty active so it seems odd to be tucking them in for the year. Daytime temps have been unseasonable warm but overnight lows in the 40s mean there's no more time to procrastinate. There are some combs that should come out, but we've waited too late to go into the hive that deep. The best we can do now is provide some extra food, insulation and ventilation.

I'd made fondant too late last year, and it was hogging up room in the freezer so it was the real catalyst for any action. Even though there are 6 combs of honey in the hive, there was space to hang the fondant so we took advantage of it.


Other than that, there wasn't much else to do. The greenhouse will keep the hive protected from wind, snowloads and, to some degree, the cold. Generally it's 5-10 degrees warmer inside than out. Warmer temps could keep the bees a bit more active than they would be otherwise – more active = more eating – but we hope to find the fondant untouched in the Spring. As this is only our 3rd Winter as beekeepers, we're still not quite sure how much food they need. When we next open up the hive again - probably in 5 months! - we'll have an answer.

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