11 responses

  1. Phillip
    October 28, 2011

    We got our first bit of snow today. Lovely.

    The last time I did a visual inspection, all the hives seemed to have plenty of honey in the top boxes. I haven’t lifted them to check their weight because I don’t want to pull my back out, I wouldn’t know what a 100 pounds feels like anyway, and I’m confident they have plenty of honey stores

    It would be nice, though, to give them one last minor inspection before we wrap them for winter — if we can just get a break in the weather. A bit of sunshine and higher temperatures wouldn’t hurt.

    They don’t seem to be taking down any more honey, so they might be ready for wrapping now. We’re supposed to have a break in the rain on Saturday.

    If we can inspect them, the inspection will be minimal. We might pull out a couple frames in the top box, but that’s about it. I’ll shine a flash light through the front entrance to check for mice. (And why don’t the bees just sting the mice? I don’t get that.) Otherwise, if they’re looking good, we’ll put a piece of hard insulation over the inner covers, wrap them and not touch them again until late January or February.

    • Phillip
      October 30, 2011

      I haven’t had a chance to wrap the hives and give them one last inspection before winter. I wish they were wrapped now. We’ve got heavy winds, cold blowing rain and hail. I know some beekeepers don’t bother with wrapping. My guess is the hives can take the pounding for a day or two without any major damage. But the next time the sun comes out, they’re getting wrapped. Hopefully in a day or two.

  2. Jeff
    October 31, 2011

    Hey Phil,

    I made up some candy pies today with the pollen patties build into them. I should send you some pics. The next nice day I am going to install them on the colonies and wrap them up. I noticed on Saturday the bee out flying and still using and guarding the bottom entrance. On colony was is bursting at the seams with bees so that is the one I’m going to place the 10 frame nuc on.

    I still have 3 colonies that I need to install mouse guards on to protect the bees overwinter. Still so many things to do.

    • Phillip
      October 31, 2011

      Hey Jeff,

      “Still so many things to do.”

      Tell me about it. Being sick with the flu, bad weather and work commitments have prevented be from getting a lot of stuff done that should have been done by now (e.g. installing all the mouse guards). I removed some of the frames of honey I was feeding the bees this morning. I think they’ve taken down all the honey they have room for, and it’s too cold for feeding anyway.

      “I made up some candy pies today with the pollen patties build into them. I should send you some pics. The next nice day I am going to install them on the colonies and wrap them up.”

      You plan to give them candy right away? I wasn’t planning to give them any sugar or pollen until January. I think my hives are loaded full of honey, but I suppose a little candy doesn’t hurt. Hmm.

      “One colony is bursting at the seams with bees so that is the one I’m going to place the 10 frame nuc on.”

      I wish I had a nuc. Next year I’m definitely starting up a nuc or two to have on hand all year round. I have a feeling the queen in our foundationless hive might not make it through the winter. Having a spare queen around would be nice.

      I feel much better about my nucs, or new hives, this year. Last year’s new hives almost starved to death by the end of January. But this year the populations in both of the new hives, especially the one with the follower boards / dummy boards, are booming and they seem to be heavy with honey. I like this feeling of not being worried.

      I just wish we could get a break in the weather so I could wrap the bees for winter and forget about them until January.

  3. athenasbees
    October 31, 2011

    Thank you Phillip for blogging on cold climate beekeeping. I’m in a pocket of cold in central New Hampshire, U.S.A. and it is a challenge to find good info. Two of my favorite books are somewhat outdated and from even farther south than I am, but a local retired Canadian beekeeper told me to not wrap the front of the hive as the sun can heat it up and fool the bees into going out in weather too cold. I have three hives and am going into my third winter with the bees.

    • Phillip
      November 1, 2011

      “…a local retired Canadian beekeeper told me to not wrap the front of the hive as the sun can heat it up and fool the bees into going out in weather too cold.”

      I’ve heard that from other beekeepers, too, though not locally. We only have two major beekeeping operations in Newfoundland, and both of them fully wrap their hives, sometimes in pairs, moving two hives next to each other and wrapping them in a single piece of felt. They’ve done that for years without any problems, so I’ll probably stick to that method for now.

      I took a look at your website. I like it. It’s straightforward and informative. It seems like you have much in common with cold climate beekeepers in Newfoundland. I think I might have to put you on my list. I’ll be checking out your website in more detail as soon as I have the time.

  4. Jeff
    November 3, 2011

    One thing I noticed last winter. When the sun played on front of the colony the bees would first come out and bask in the sun over the felt. The sometimes they would make short flights. If they came back it seemed more bees would come back out. If they didn’t others didn’t fly out. Maybe it is coencidental. The bees that didn;t make it back were sacrifical lambs.

    Also I have my election signs to install on the north side of the colonies to break the wind a little more. With the oversize inner covers I have it allows for the corrogated plastic to fit under the cover and keep moisture out. I can tape areoudn the seems to keep drafts to a minimum and maintain my lower adn upper entrances for ventilation.

    Make up and other 12 kgs of candy cakes last night. Althought I have two colonies that look like they will not need it.

    • Phillip
      November 3, 2011

      I’m friends with a local politician who got elected for the first time last month, which means all her next batch of election signs will have to read “re-elect” instead of “elect.” I’m sure she has some of those big billboard type signs she won’t need again. I’ll see what she can give me. My four hives are well protected from the wind in my small backyard, but I might need to make a windbreak for the new hives, wherever I end up putting them.

      I plan to max out at 8 hives next year. Then maybe double it again the year after that. I don’t think I’d ever want much more than 20 hives. This has nothing to do with what we’re talking about, but next year I plan to expand to the other end of St. John’s instead of out in the country, mainly because it’s more convenient for me to stay in town if I can. If I ever start making money from beekeeping, that’s when I’ll head out to some family land in CBS.

      I’m working from home today. I’m heading out in about an hour to see if I can finally wrap the hives for winter.

  5. Phillip
    November 3, 2011

    On the topic of feeding, I don’t plan to feed our bees again until sometime around January or February 2012 at the earliest. I could load them up with hard candy now just before I wrap them for winter, but as far as I can tell, they don’t need it. I could be wrong, but I think the hives easily have enough honey and pollen stores to keep going strong well into January.

    When I do get around to feeding them, I’ll probably just give them some candy cakes again similar to what I did last winter, and maybe some pollen patties in late winter to get the queen laying before spring kicks in and all that.

    I could also feed them raw sugar as shown in this photo:


    The inner cover is installed with the flat side down so it acts like a container for the raw sugar. The bees simply walk up through the inner cover hold and eat the raw sugar.

    The candy cake method worked well last year, so I’ll probably just stick to what works. But I’m tempted to try the raw sugar method only because it looks so easy. No mixing of syrup, boiling it down do hard candy, pouring and slopping it all over the place. Just pour the raw sugar over the inner cover and be done with it.

    It probably wouldn’t work so well on cold days when the bees can’t easily leave the cluster, so in that way it’s not as good as the candy cake method which provides easier access to the sugar, but it might be worth a try is I’m feeling lazy.

  6. athenasbees
    November 18, 2011

    I’ve got my fingers crossed as I don’t think my bees had much in the way of stores. I slaved over the stove making the candy and just filled up the inner cover with whatever they may need, but I really wish I had surplus honey to offer. I like the picture of the frame over the inner cover opening. I’ll try that in the spring. Maybe in time I’ll learn how to anticipate their needs. I’d like to find a good way to offer them water as whenever there is a mild day I always find some bees drowned or stranded near a puddle.

  7. Jerry
    July 13, 2014

    New studies show that it actually hurts to feed your bees honey:

    I’m not sure why this would be true but statistics seem to say it is.

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