Beekeepers Friend

Peaches' Beekeeping Blog

August 11, 2011

Thinkin’ Out Loud – Again

Since my last post: I have lost my observation hive bees because they didn’t have a queen; had a bee inspection by the State Apiary Bee Inspector and passed; watched and encouraged my son, just returned to the States from Argentina, in replacing the intake manifold on my ’99 Grand Marquis and rejoicing when it actually worked; and getting my big toenail surgically removed.

I need to be sure that all my colony hives have Screened Bottom Boards (SBB). I have been wanting to replace all the solid bb for a long time now. You know, procrastination. As hot as it has been this last 2-3 months, you would think that I would have already done so, but alas, no! You know, the bees have been doing for themselves a long, long time now and we really don’t have to do everything for them, but as beekeepers, we feel that we have to do something so this is what I want to do to make me feel better.

The inspection showed that I really don’t have any kind of diseases, however, I do have Small Hive Beetles. Lots and lots of ’em. Just because the inspector and I didn’t see any Varroa Mites doesn’t mean that I don’t have them. I need to do a powdered sugar roll to count the little buggers. You know that if you control the mites, the bees will control all the other critters in the hive.

I was at one of my associations’ meeting last night and the question came up as to how much honey do you leave on the hive to overwinter the bees? One of the loudest answers was–Nothing! Keep all the honey and feed corn syrup or sugar syrup.– That is what most of the old-timers say. “It was good enough for my dad and granddad, it is good enough for me–period!”

Well my own personal opinion, and you know that everybody has an opinion, is that the bees made the honey for themselves and they know what they need as far as nutrition goes. Why give them something man-made that doesn’t have the vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and all that other stuff? Give them some of their hard earned goods back to them so they can stay healthy and do it again next year.

Now to answer the question of how much honey to leave on the hive. Up in Canada, I have read that some beekeepers leave as much as 150 lbs of honey per hive. In the northern United States, around 100 lbs. Here in Northwest Florida, I personally leave one medium super of honey, around 60 lbs. I haven’t fed bees in several years now, so I guess that is a good number for me.

Another question was how many supers to stack on a colony in the beginning of spring time? That really depends on you. If you are near your apiary and can monitor the colonies frequently, then only one at a time will be sufficient. However, if your apiary is a long way off and you cannot get back to it for several weeks or months, then three or four will do. I have a friend that is a training instructor for several law enforcement agencies all over the U.S. and is gone for long periods of time, so he would leave two or three supers in the beginning and when he gets home, he would check the progress of the bees and add supers accordingly.

At one time, I had seven apiaries spread out about 80 miles from one end of the group to the other end. I could not visit each apiary sooner than four weeks at a time. I would leave two or three honey supers per colony to be on the safe side.

Whatever the case may be, right now, I have left a full super of honey on my bees and they can use it if there is no nectar┬áto be brought in at this time, and I have left an empty super of comb on top of that so if the bees do find some nectar somewhere, they will have a place to put it. Remember to keep water handy for the bees at this time as they need the water to keep the hive cool (and hopefully, your bees will stay out of your neighbor’s pool).

And don’t forget yourself. It is HOT out there and you need to be hydrated too! Learn the difference between Heat Exhaustion and Sun (Heat) Stroke. It could save your life of the life of the one with you.

Until the next time, keep your veil close, your smoker lit, and your hive tool sharp.


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