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Early Winter (or so they say!)

Folks are really hollaring about the cool weather these days (my wife being one of them). It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the Winter – will this be a real cold one? Something like the late 90’s with Ice Storms and all that mess? I remember skating on the pond below my folks’ house when I was a child. I honestly do not believe that it has gotten cold enough (for long enough) to freeze that pond in close to 20 years. It’s time for some cold.

The bees, on the other hand, are not a big fan of the cold. Yesterday, I bore whitness to this first hand. I do not believe that I have ever looked at the bee hives and not seen a single bee wandering around somewhere. But, neither have I had my bees during the cold. There was no sign of them (I actually momentarily wondered if one of the hives had absconded! =). Presumably, they are all up in a cluster, keeping her majesty warm.

Getting cool (high-30’s and low-40’s) a bit earlier then usual, I have not done some of the important tasks that need to be done. We had the ERBA meeting this past Tuesday, where Kenny gave a talk about some items to do in the Fall. What follows are some of my notes on his talk (although the ERBA setup a website, it escapes them that this kind of knowledge should be posted on their site – one day I will expound on the irony of that site and how they had it setup!)

Requeening By Kenny

The one caveat to this is that Kenny advised that he has never seen this written about nor heard of anyone else doing it. But, he does it with success and reportedly has over 3 decades of experience with bees.

To begin with, why was Kenny talking about this? In the Fall, you may start to see a failing colony or one that is trying to replace their own queen (deja vu for Jonesie boy). Per my comments a month and a half ago, it’s not a good idea to let them raise a queen so late, with all of the risks. In addition, it is a little late in the year to find a queen to purchase. So, here is how Kenny requeen’s when he needs to.

You need a 9-frame Shallow Nuc (I need to follow up on this, as I assumed that he meant a honey super, but while I am writing this journal entry, I am wondering if he meant that or not) with a new queen in it. On the hive that you are requeening, open her up and lay a single sheet of news paper on top. Subsequently, place your queen excluder and then place the ‘nuc’ (or honey super with a queen).

The little gals will eat through the paper, at which point battle will be engaged. When you come back a few weeks later, there will be a fair number of dead bees outside of the hive, but the group should have eventually merged, accepted the new queen and done away with the old monarch. Per Kenny, this is the result 90% of the time. I am not sure what happens the other 10%, but I think the implication is that it is not something that I would be happy about…

Should a Hive Be Level?

Kenny mentioned a ‘trick’ of slightly leaning the hive forward a bit as part of a larger method to deal with pests. This has me wondering yet again about ‘how level should a hive be?’ I have one hive that slopes forward just a tad and another hive that slopes forward a lot. My main goal is to keep water from pooling up on the bottom board, inside the hive (of course, now that I have screened bottom boards on both hives, there is no real need for it.)

But, is this wise? I have read that bees orient the cells in just the right manner so that uncapped/unfinished honey/nectar will not drip out. I wonder if I am causing a problem for the bees (or, I should say, just making it harder for them to properly use my foundation.)

More then likely, this is the Beekeeping Nube coming out in me again and the bees are doing just fine.

Peppermint Candy

Someone in the audience (I do not know him, but he appears to have played with bees for many years) mentioned that they have fed their bees Candy Canes (that’s right – peppermint candy canes of Xmas!) Many folks seemed to agree that a bee would eat this. This tidbit of knowledge will be filed away for later.

Nectar Dearth

Although I may have noted this before, I wanted to jot it down again for future reference. The Nectar Dearth in our area starts around mid-June.

Supers and Space

Kenny was very adamant about not supering a colony that could not make honey. I am pretty sure that I was guilty of that on my strong hive. In fact, I still have that super on them and hope to get it off today if the weather will peak about 60 degrees (which  seems unlikely at the moment.)

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