What should I be doing to get ready for winter?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by ASTMedic, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    What should I do to get ready for winter? (Added question after checking hive today)

    So the weather has started to cool down here in N. California (I'm so ready for fall!!!!). We're running in the mid 50's at night now and mid to upper 80's on average in the daytime. I'm going to go into the hive for the first time in a month and see how things look. They were going strong last I checked and still look good from the outside. I'm planning on putting the large opening reducer on since nights are cooling off and a chance of light rain is in the forecast in the next few days.

    What should I be doing or looking for that I wouldn't be on a normal inspection?

    What should I be getting ready before the real cold hits (keeping in mind we do dip into the 20's at night and run in the 40's during the day when winter is in full tilt)


    Edit: How much brood should I be seeing this time of year? I only found one half of a frame of brood in the entire 2 deeps today.
     
  2. Ray

    Ray Member

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    Snip:
    What should I be getting ready before the real cold hits (keeping in mind we do dip into the 20's at night and run in the 40's during the day when winter is in full tilt) [​IMG]
    Maybe Crofter or Riverbees have an answer for you[​IMG]

    Check your pollen and honey reserves. Hopefully, some of the Beeks more local, to you, may give you a quantity. I doubt that the winter weather will keep you from checking the hives periodically.

    Good Luck!
     

  3. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    Honey looks really good. Top deep of the two is full of honey. Heavy enough it's about impossible to lift to check the bottom deep.

    Here was a frame I took a pic of:

    [​IMG]

    90% of the frames look like that or more.

    I was just reading about pollen stores. I didn't see much if any. I've got a box of pollen supplement, should I be feeding it?
     
  4. Crofter

    Crofter New Member

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    I have several hives that have only about 4 frames each with hand sized areas of capped brood. There is still some eggs being laid and some open brood but they are winding down. They had full frames of capped brood on the go for about the last month and the hives are well populated so I am thinking they have their winter bees mostly made. Most of the upper deep frames are capped honey or quite heavy nectar / sugar syrup and at least three nearly full on the bottom.

    I would like to see more pollen stored too but they are still bringing in quite a bit and with brooding down should not be using much till spring buildup starts. I dont honestly know if they will store pollen sub now or should wait to feed it towards spring when they should be up in the top box and take patties on the top frames. My hive weights appear to be around 130 lb average for double 10 frame deeps including bottom, inner cover and telescoping top.

    I had one hive that light last winter that came through very well with a layer of damp sugar added to the top frames so I am hoping that they will be OK this year averaging that weight. I will probably need to consider feeding sub in the spring as nearly half my hives stores are sugar syrup and they are probably corresponding short of pollen. This is my first real venture into fall feeding so dont put much stock in my advice!

    Edit; beautiful looking frame of honey! How do you keep the top bars that clean; I am going to show my bees a screen grab of that and tell them to pull up their socks!:grin:
     
  5. Ray

    Ray Member

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    I would be worried about them swarming. How much brood / open cells do you have?
    ​Maybe, you should think about harvesting some honey.
     
  6. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    A lot of open cells. Almost every frame in the bottom deep is open. They have an arch of honey at the top and then open below that. One frame down there has a palm sized area of capped brood.
     
  7. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    On a side note:

    Picked my pumpkins tonight

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. riverbee

    riverbee Active Member

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    ast,
    your queen should be winding down on brood rearing, do not feed pollen substitute this time of year, wait until early spring to give them any pollen substitute. what is in your bottom deep? and how many frames of bees would you estimate you have? (strength of your colony). your top deep, full of honey is good, and there will be some pollen in these frames. but maybe some rearranging...with some questions:
    i read your post about the bottom deep....
    "A lot of open cells. Almost every frame in the bottom deep is open. They have an arch of honey at the top and then open below that. One frame down there has a palm sized area of capped brood."
    what is in the frames outside of these frames; the frames towards the ends of your bottom deep?

    btw, great pix of the pumpkiins and especially the pretty little lady in the pink wagon.....very cool pic, and thanks for sharing!.....:grin:
     
  9. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    The bottom deep has frames with open cells in all but the very last outside frames, so 8 of 10 frames are open cells with an arch of honey at the top. The very outside frames have hit and miss capped honey and open cell nectar. The entire top deep is dense, some places nice and thick, capped honey. There is a frame in the top deep that hadn't been drawn but that could be because I pulled the frame feeder to put that last frame in, thus with no feed they didn't draw it out.

    As long as this is normal then I'm ok with it. I'm just a bit bothered since they were really going strong a month ago when I checked last.

    As for hive strength; I'd say the majority of frames are covered with bees. However I've seen far denser numbers on frames so that's why I'm concerned. Granted this was at 2pm so I'm sure with the foragers that are out the numbers are higher.

    I guess they could be scaling back the numbers based on the fact that they have one deep full of honey. I haven't researched to see what is a necessary amount of honey for a hive going into winter so I'm not sure.
     
  10. pistolpete

    pistolpete New Member

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    don't be so sure you don't have a lot of pollen. in preparation for winter the bees will fill about 1/2 the cell with pollen and then top it off with honey. If you hold the frame up to the sun you will see the difference in color. They seem to prefer cells that have had a couple of rounds of brood in them for pollen storage. Did you find any eggs in your inspection? There should still be a few.
     
  11. ASTMedic

    ASTMedic New Member

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    No eggs that I could see Pete. Didn't have the sun in the best position so it was hard to look down in the cells but as best as I could tell, no.