The Beekeeping year


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This month the bees continue to prepare for Winter. The brood nest continues to contract. Soon it will be half the size it was. This is freeing up storage space in the brood chamber, and as empty combs become available, so the bees are stacking it with stores for the coming Winter. It is now that the beekeeper will make sure the colonies go into Winter with adequate stores, by feeding them a rich sugar solution of two parts sugar to one part water, and placed in a special receptacle over a hole in the crown board. The bees can come up into the receptacle and gain access to the sugar syrup, carry it back down into their brood chamber, convert it into honey as they would nectar, and store it close to their diminishing brood nest, where it will be close at hand when the temperature drops.

Once the honey supers have been removed, the good beekeeper must also consider the health of the bees. Honey bees need the help of man to deal with some of the problems which beset them. Such a problem is the parasitic mite varroa destructor. Without treatment, this mite, together with associated viruses, will kill honey bee colonies, so treatment is essential. There are several forms of treatment available, but currently the popular ones are thymol based products such as Apiguard. They are left in place for 2 sessions of 2 weeks and then removed, and this is usually sufficient treatment for a year, although the situation must be monitored.

Feed your bees. They will take sugar syrup down while the warm weather lasts. Check what stores they already have. If you took the supers off early in order to treat for varroa, the colony may have since put away enough stores to last through the winter, especially if you have a late flow from ivy. If the stores are less than 40 lb give sugar syrup to raise the store level to 40 lb. Avoid spillage of sugar syrup in the apiary.

Guard against robbing and ingress of mice by restricting the hive entrance to 8 mm height.

If wasps are a problem put out traps (a little jam in a jar half full of water with 6 mm holes cut in the lid).

Colonies with old queens should be re-queened by uniting to a nucleus with this year’s queen, or by introducing a new queen in a cage.

Winter 5 frame nucs with new queens by feeding them 60% sugar syrup (in its own feeder) until the end of November. Two nucs can be sited under one roof with entrances at opposite ends.

Clean the extracted supers by returning them to the bees then, after scraping, put them away for the winter.