A month ago my beeyard was in trouble. Here’s how it looks now.
I’ve fortified it with some fence panels. I was going to use some T posts and barbed wire. But Bill and June had a faster and much easier solution. They loaded some fence panels in their truck and offloaded them at the beeyard.
Fence panels are expensive and they don’t fit in my toy truck. But, thanks to Bill and June, the beeyard was surrounded in less than five minutes with minimum effort. Bill and June, thank you again.
And I’ve sprayed the hive exteriors with horse chewing repellent, a commercial mixture of bad tasting stuff. There were a few new bite marks on one hive. It appears a horse got down low. Turned its head sideways. And stretched through the bars for another taste of a hive setting too close. But it just didn’t have that same Malathion and new equipment taste like it did before. 🙂
The initial cold snap has passed and temps are again in the 80 F high, 40 F low range. Most of the rabbit brush and gumweed bloom was damaged by the hard freeze. But the bees continue to work isolated plants that escaped the worst effects.
The last alfalfa cutting is down. And it’s time to get these bees ready for winter. There’s no more sign of any brood disease. And these bees have chewed the infected brood comb down to it’s midrib, a common behavior with good bees on natural comb. So, I’ve decided to overwinter them.
Back in my commercial days, this yard would have been trashed, resulting in three or four double deep hives. But I’m not so much interested in commercial honey production as I am the bees themselves.
I’ve reduced the hives to a single deep. The top box is empty. All frames have been removed to make room for a division board feeder of megabee syrup, and a place to store granulated sugar as emergency winter feed. Next spring, when the bees need more sugar, it’s a simple matter to remove the lid and add more sugar without disturbing the broodnest.
The hives have been pushed back into a block. Entrance reducers are in. Lids are nailed on. Rocks are in place to hold the lids on. They’re ready for winter.
Feeding Granulated Sugar
Feeding, let alone feeding granulated sugar, is a hot topic with some natural beekeepers. But it’s easy to forget that most of our beekeeping is not done in a natural situation. And it’s a natural beekeeper’s responsibility to make up for that difference, especially if the natural consequence is dead bees.
To feed sugar, a piece of cardboard is set on top of the frames with its edge near the center of the broodnest. Ten pound bags of sugar are set on top the cardboard. The bags are slit open and allowed to spill out onto the cardboard. Then the bags and sugar are sprayed with water until some sugar syrup flows.
The sugar syrup attracts the bees. They learn where to feed before winter sets in. And it also hardens the surface of the sugar, which inhibits the bees from carrying the coarsely granulated sugar out as trash.
Feeding sugar requires more effort than feeding frames of honey. If the weather stays unseasonably warm, a feed check will be needed in November. And another will be needed toward the end of February. Then it will be feed, feed, feed until the end of April, when natural sources should take over.