The forecast this week is full of more unseasonably warm temperatures. If you haven’t “put your bees to bed” yet, my blog ‘Honey, Bear in Mind’ at www.hubbardhive.com outlines part of what we do when weather allows you to still get in the hive. There are lots of other opinions and options out there of course, but we generally have better survival than local averages so we must be doing something right. We also had many years of doing things wrong …
We’ve had killing frosts, so there’s little forage available. Our bees are consuming their winter stores, which causes me to wonder what they’re going to eat come February and March. We’re open feeding 2:1 sugar syrup, but far away from the hives to try to avoid setting off raiding.
Many people have asked how long they should feed. Bees will slow down or stop when it is cold; we like to have feed available as long as there’s a chance they’ll take it. And at 2:1, you don’t have to worry about the syrup freezing until we’re consistently well below freezing.
We’re also finding that our strong hives have this amazing workforce programmed to bring home the bacon. As bee grocery stores have been generally killed by frost, this workforce is raiding weak hives. You can often see casualties about the hive, or bee parts on the slider board, like in the photo on my blog. Heckuva battle. We greatly reduced the entrance on that hive so they may more easily defend it, but fear it may be too late.
Soon (?) winter might arrive, and then we’ll do the final wrapping and kissing good-bye. And there won’t be much left to do …. other than of course worrying about them, and missing them tremendously.