Author Topic: Preparing for Winter  (Read 45 times)

Jim Mehta

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Preparing for Winter
« on: August 02, 2020, 09:27:14 pm »
Hi

I wonder if anyone can advise me on how best to prepare my bees for winter?  I started a national hive last year, which overwintered well and in spring was split twice to prevent swarming.  Unfortunately both new queens in the splits died/vanished so I recombined the bees from both into the original with a double brood.  I now have one super full and capped and in the upper brood box about 5 frames of capped honey also.  Assuming I take the super off and extract that honey should I leave the honey in the brood box?  Also going into winter should I leave the hive as a double brood or reduce it down to one?  The plan I sort of have in my head is to extract the super now and and also 2 of the frames from the brood, then to do an apiguard treatment. and then to put the queen excluder between the brood boxes and wait until all brood above has hatched and then in Sept to reduce the hive down to one brood box going into winter.

Would really appreciate any advice on the best course of action, thanks Jim

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Roger Adams

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Re: Preparing for Winter
« Reply #1 on: August 07, 2020, 07:37:22 pm »
Jim
I see no one else has replied so I will tell you what I think but I am no expert.
I would leave the honey in the brood box for the bees for the winter, take off and extract the super, putting it back on for them to clean out then Varoa treatment. The brood boxes I would sort out with all brood in one box above all food in the bottom box probably in a few weeks time and leave until spring, no QE between.
But ask anybody else that you can and then make up your own plan, it is unlikely to be wrong! The Bees know best.
Roger Adams

Jim Mehta

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Re: Preparing for Winter
« Reply #2 on: August 07, 2020, 08:01:00 pm »
Thanks Roger much appreciated.  Sounds very sensible; as you say they know best!
Cheers Jim

ruth_mountford

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Re: Preparing for Winter
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2020, 10:59:18 pm »
Hi Jim,

Some of my colonies are on double brood over winter. In these cases I do not leave a Queen excluder on, this allows them to move with the Queen to use food in any part of the boxes as they need it. I find these colonies are much slower to try to swarm in the spring and when they do I have sufficent comb to split them with a full brood box of drawn comb and it gives flexibility in removing old/badly drawn comb in the spring.

I would normally put the second brood box on top of the existing box after I have extracted the honey and then feed syrup to pull any undrawn comb and to replace extracted honey. As you already have a second brood box on, if you have full combs of honey which have not been used by the bees for brood, then these can be extracted first. Put the cleanest combs in the top box and all the brood in the bottom box, in the Spring you will more than likely find the Queen will be in the top box, as this will be the warmest part of the hive. Remember - no Queen excluder

The bees will collect Himalayan Balsam and Ivy to refill the comb, but always make sure they have a generous amount of stores. In September give them a good feed and aim to achieve a balance between the Queen having plenty of laying room to produce winter bees and getting the boxes filled with stores for the winter. With two brood boxes this is easier, the problem with a single National brood box is that it is very easy to block the Queen's laying area with syrup, especially when there is undrawn comb still in the brood chamber. The bees have an annoying  habit of filling every cell with syrup before they draw the new comb.

If you treat with Apiguard do it when the weather is cooler. If you do it in the sort of weather we have been getting you will find all your bees outside the hive, you will also find that your Queen will probably stop laying. Treat in September when it is cooler (maybe), put an eke between the two brood boxes and put your tray in there.

Let us know what you decide to do and how it goes.
Good luck
Ruth

Jim Mehta

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Re: Preparing for Winter
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2020, 10:38:43 am »
Hi Ruth, thanks so much for your advice.  I did an extraction a few days ago and found that most of the top brood frames were stores or mixed stores and some brood.  I extracted 4 frames of capped honey and replaced them with clean foundation and left the rest for the bees.  Unfortunately they all collapsed in the centrifuge so I can't put them back!  The super only had about 4 frames of honey and I've extracted those as well.  I put the super back on for a day and they cleaned it out, I've removed it now.  I thought I'd leave them a few days to settle and I'll start feeding 1:1 syrup now.  As you've suggested I'll wait till Sept to start the Apiguard treatment, it's 10 days for each canister so that should be complete before it gets colder.

Interestingly this is the first time my bees have been really aggressive towards me, when withdrawing the brood frames!  I had to walk away two times and let them settle.

Best wishes
Jim :)