November 16, 2010

Last 2010 Manipulation

This post is a bit tardy. We have a rule about completing winterization tasks by Halloween, so this post is about 2 weeks after the fact.

With a horizontal hive, if the bees have not backfilled the combs so the honey stores butt up against the brood nest, beekeepers are told to consolidate the space in the hive by removing empty combs and pushing the honey stores toward the bees. As our colony had several unused combs between the stores and the nest, this was the advice we'd been given by the biobees forum and by Marty Hardison. But we weren't comfortable with the amount of manipulation required.

First, we weren't sure just how many empty combs there were and we didn't want to be in the hive long trying to find out. Second, bees tend to be protective at this time of year, meaning prone to sting, so we weren't keen on trying to loosen and move 6 heavy honeycombs. Instead we simply pulled out a couple of empty combs and replaced them with drawn comb and honey we had in our freezer. If we'd had more resources, we'd've swapped out more than just two; there are still several combs between the nest and their stores. While devoid of brood, these combs do hold a few pounds of honey for the bees, and we hope it entices them to move deeper into the hive.

We are currently experiencing our first cold weather and the bees are very tightly clustered at the very front of the hive, with the bulk of the honey stores 4-6 combs away. All bees store some honey within their broodnest itself, but I don't know how long it lasts. If they consume it all, they will have to move closer to the honey stores. If they don't move in the next couple of weeks, before the real cold weather settles in, they could end up starving just 6 inches away from ample food.


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