A Curious Beekeeper makes plans

Winter time planning can be dangerous. There are lots of times when ideas sound good and you’re ready to jump in whole hog. But often too it pays to bounce those ideas off of someone else, if only to make sure that you’re thinking clearly.

Just what was on my to-do list last winter? Something about RH in hives?

Today’s plans regard feeding for next winter. I have long said that local conditions rule in beekeeping, and I think this time I’ve run into that head on. Still, I’ll be cautious and test my theory and revised technique on three hives. (I run about 20)

I’m talking about dysentery and the undigestible components of fall honey (ash, etc.) I need to grab the microscope and make sure I’m not dealing with Nosema apis.

There are times when I wish I wasn’t a generalist. This is one of them. Looking under a scope for Nosema is thankfully straightforward. Though I’m not about to tell apis from ceranae.

My plan is to treat the hive as if they were a single deep, harvesting all honey not in the bottom box, seeing what they can store in the 2nd deep during the fall (post frost), and giving additional feed over the winter if necessary.

Breaking with tradition, I’ll keep a 2nd deep on them above an excluder all the time. I don’t want them feeling crowded and swarming on me. The excluder will come off for winter. Next spring whichever box the queen is in will be the bottom box, and the excluder will go back on.

I’m very much a follower of make sure they have all the food they need for winter and spring buildup in the fall, and then ignore them until February.

I get that many folks routinely do what I consider insurance feeding. My reply is I got into beekeeping thinking I had winters off from the bees, and I was taught to feed them all they’d need in the fall.

Tell me why then, with winters off, is there is an EPS hive on the porch now to assemble and paint? Could it be that winter is drawing to an end? (On the plus side, my Gator came back from the dealer today, all repaired and ready for another season. It was belching white smoke las fall, and I thought it about to explode. The dealer said I had fuel & condensation in the oil, probably from not running it enough.)

Then again, my plans could change. That’s one reason plans made this time of year are so dangerous.

Distractions abound! I heard something about 6 over 6 nucs yesterday that I might just have to try! Did someone say deeps and follower boards?

Andrew Dewey