Part of fall beekeeping is increased feeding and treating the bees for mites that often have a devastating effect on the hive’s health and survival. Many of the winter hive failures are due pests that overtake the bees during the winter months. Over the past few weeks, I have been going out with my bee mentor Mick to tend his hives in various locations and as always I have been learning a great deal. Throughout September, I have been noting the routines and tasks for the late summer and fall months.
It has been interesting to watch various bee behaviors like robbing. Robbing is when invading bees and wasps (yellow jackets) take the honey and food from hives. In the collage above the photo of the tule of the frames was something that Mick tried during the feeding process to calm down the bees during a robbing session.
Just as another point of education, the above are photos of various sizes and types hive boxes. These are Langstroth 8 and 10 frame boxes. Some beekeepers use other types of hives like the top-bar and even the more controversial newer flow hive. I have gravitated to the Langstroth but, I would like to try a top-bar hive.
The smaller blue styrofoam box with mason jar feeder is a Nuc (or Nucleus) which are a small colony of bees– usually a package, swarm or split. In each of the Nuc boxes, there are 4-5 frames for the bees to build out and are used as a temporary home for the bees. This Nuc may be left in the small box for the winter or maybe moved to a larger hive if they are thriving. The issue with moving the Nuc to a larger box is that bees like their spaces to be filled and in the winter bees are in survival mode.
In earlier posts about I mentioned feeding and bee syrup, to be more specific, beekeepers often use in hive feeders which can be boxes/frames that hold the syrup so that the bees can supplement their late fall foraging. I have noticed that the warm temperatures this fall seemed to have helped some plant species thrive, but it has also confused the natural timeline a bit. The pollen count is still not what it was a few weeks ago.
Another observation has been that the more that we feed, the more syrup that is consumed. We have begun to change the formula from 2:1 to 2.5:1 (this is our made-up mix) or 3:1. We will see how this works and hopefully, this will keep the bees happy through the winter. Below are the larger containers of syrup that we mix to feed the many hives. The other day, we made 18 containers of bee syrup (5-gallon) using our power sizing method. When I make up my syrup at home, I make much smaller batches.
We have begun to change the formula from 2:1 to 2.5:1 (this is our made-up mix) or 3:1. We will see how this works and hopefully, this will keep the bees happy through the winter. Below are the larger containers of syrup that we mix to feed the many hives. The other day, we made 18 containers of bee syrup (5-gallon) using our power sizing method. When I make up my syrup at home, I make much smaller batches.
Now to treatments, I have seen online a myriad of methods to treat for varroa and other pests. Many of the natural beekeeping methods discourage the use of the products and encourage the use of natural oils as part of the feed process. We have used a hybrid approach to adding the essential oil to the feed but, we have been using Hopguard II to the hive and we will be doing Oxalic Acid treatment.
I have not quite decided what to do with my remaining personal hives (because of the status of the weak and the strong hive). However, I worry about the various pests, because I have seen them in other hives and number of early hive failures that I have seen this year concerns me.
Here is a link for some other interesting information on treatments for varroa. I hope that this post has been informative and helpful!
Tell me your thoughts!