Oct 25 2017

Tucking the girls in for winter

Yesterday at 3:00pm it was sunny and 60 degrees and calm and the girls were out in force flying about. So I decided to go ahead and winterize them since it will be one of the rare warmer days we have.

The blue hive and the yellow hive were extremely busy, with lots and lots of bees coming and going quickly, bringing back in very dark orange pollen. The blue hive must have just had a hatch out because a lot of bees were in front of the hive orienting themselves to the front of the hive in a big “iron cross” pattern. Up and down, back to center, left to right, back to center, up and down, back to center, left to right, back to center.

blue hive nearly all decked out for winter. Just need to close up the bottom sides and back

blue hive nearly all decked out for winter. Just need to close up the bottom sides and back

However, the orange hive – not so much. There were 5-6 bees at a time going in and out the bottom or top, but not nearly enough as there should be. Oh well. It is way to late now to be looking at tearing apart the hives in this kind of weather, and mashing them together with another hive. I’ll just have to hope they’re still doing as well as they were last time I looked. This is the hive that was treated for mites, so hopefully they didn’t have such a load prior to treatment that it was harmful going into winter.

This year, I got new hive insulation and cut it custom so that I can quickly wrap and unwrap the hives each year.  Usually I staple roofing paper all around, but that means that on a given warm winter day, if I want to take a peek down into the hive, I can’t remove the top box because it’s stapled in place. With the new method, I can get in and out and not destroy the winter insulation.

I cut panels from 2″ polystyrene to create a 4 paneled box around each hive. The front panel is shorter so that the front door and the upper door are not blocked at all. Then I wrapped bungee cords really tight around to hold the panels in place. There is a final panel on the top with at least a 3″ overhang around all sides so that if/when it rains and snows, the moisture will fall off outside the hive panels and now down the walls.

I then put cement paving stones and bricks on top to hold the lid panels down, hopefully, in a swift wind.

all 3 hives have their winter jackets and hats on. Good luck, girls!

all 3 hives have their winter jackets and hats on. Good luck, girls!

I still need to go around the hives at the hive stand level and put some sheets along each side of the hive stand and over the top-back of the hive stand to keep the wind out, since I leave the hive bottom open all the time with it’s wire floor.

I also closed down the hive entrances with hardwire cloth and push pins so that they still get air circulation, but the opening is only 2″ wide.  This made them a little aggravated when I did it (I did this first) but by the time I got done winterizing, the bees were going in the small opening on bottom and top.

Here is a video of the blue hive with their busy little girls going in and out and orienting themselves to the hive. The noise of the airplane overhead is competing with the girls busy buzzing.

It’s now up to the bees and God to get them through the winter. There’s nothing this old beekeeper can do, except take a peek into the winter and plop a feeding patty on top if they’re short of food.

Comments Off on Tucking the girls in for winter

Comments are closed at this time.