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What should I be doing now for my bees?

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Poly Hive 

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You have on your mouse guard.

You have set the entrance to suit. (your choice)

You have plugged any holes.

You will have blocked off the Crown Board. (I hope)

You have fed them and they are a comfortable weight, with some 40 lbs of stores.

You have a stone/brick on the roof.

What now?

Sit on your hands please. Leave them alone.

I have read of queen finding, sugar dusting and goodness knows what all going on..... in November for goodness sake.

They are in winter mode folks, if it ain't right now then you have to live with it as do the bees, just please let them snooze in peace and with luck all will be well in Feb. If not, well you will have to ponder why not and try again next year.

Please, let them alone now.

I will bother mine once more for the Oxalic acid in late December, apart from that they are fed and will remain undisturbed until Feb. I will check the roofs but apart from that I am hands off.

PH
 

Polyanwood 

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I like this advice. It is so tempting to have a sneaky peak, but the rule of not opening the boxes unless you need to applies even more in Winter.
 

oliver90owner 

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Yes, definitely in winter mode these last couple of days. They are all most certainly best left alone if there is no problem, or it cannot be fixed at this time of the year.

That said, a week (or less) of unseasonably warm weather will see them unclustered and busily foraging again, given it is economical for them to doing so (bees are clever enough not to expend more energy foraging, than the benefits of that collected forage).

Inside the hive, the bees will be (perhaps not too busily) reorganising anything that may have changed over the period of inactivity, so as to retain the optimum configuration for the next clustering period.

The hive will have been propolised around the joints (if not opened, these last few weeks) and does not benefit from disturbance unless absolutely necessary.

This thread, I am sure, has materialised from that one where a superceded queen was separated from the new queen earlier (again not a course I would recommend) and now appears to be possibly kaput and being robbed (surprise, surprise).

In that situation, given a window of opportunity, I would take it and possibly repair the earlier damage (of separating the queens), if there was a better chance of the whole surviving than possibly only the larger part or indeed perhaps neither part.

Beekeeping is not about sticking rigidly to the published dates for this, that, and the other. I doubt there will be a suitable window of opportunity, but taking one is better than losing both parts. It all boils down to experience and knowledge. The inexperienced and/or unknowledgeable should certainly leave things alone, or they will likely make things worse.

Regards, RAB
 

Moggs 

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The bees can sleep but I can't! I will now try to get into my garage without falling over the clutter of supers, ekes, frames, crown boards, motorbikes, gardening paraphernalia, paint, beermaking equipment, etc. When I find my workbench, I will make some shelves to store some of the above. Then I will be working on next season's development and the move to 14x12 and make more frames with foundation. Before all of this I will finish my prototype anti-hive theft device (tilt switches don'tcha know...) and fix it into place amongst said snoozing bees. What? February already? In fact, if they want oxalic acid and fondant, they'll have to arrange an appointment!
 

keithgrimes 

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Isn't February a little early? I was taught not to open until the flowering currants are in flower
 

Beezy 

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As a new beekeeper, I find the 'hefting' of the hive very difficult to judge (I have done it a couple of times but can't really tell!). I haven't looked in there for a couple of months and when I last checked they had plenty of stores, but I'm fretting that they might have scoffed a load already. Should I put a block of fondant in just in case?
 
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As mentioned elsewhere, the quantity of stores can be estimated by weighing the hive with a spring balance (do it on each side and add together), subtracting the approx weight of the hive itself (as a rough guide 10lbs for a standard national, floor and frames I believe), and if the result is less than 40-45lbs put some fondant in.

The weight should also give you a guide for any further winter hefting.
 

thedeaddiplomat 

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The bees can sleep but I can't! I will now try to get into my garage without falling over the clutter of supers, ekes, frames, crown boards, motorbikes, gardening paraphernalia, paint, beermaking equipment, etc. When I find my workbench, I will make some shelves to store some of the above. Then I will be working on next season's development and the move to 14x12 and make more frames with foundation. Before all of this I will finish my prototype anti-hive theft device (tilt switches don'tcha know...) and fix it into place amongst said snoozing bees. What? February already? In fact, if they want oxalic acid and fondant, they'll have to arrange an appointment!
And don't forget reading: The more books I read on beekeeping, the more I realise how little I know. So a good long winter's read is called for!
 

Poly Hive 

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I was going to mention a book but some one huffily said why should I read the forum and be told to read a book so I didn't.... but I da*n well do now... lol

PH
 

mbc 

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In my neck of the woods the bees did rather well on balsom then ivy and most colonies didnt need feeding ( apart from juvenile nucs ) . I'll be going round them later to oxalic some of them and I reckon this is the time to heft and possibly leave them some fondant if they appear light .
Any worried new beeks should be aware that colonies are very unlikely to starve untill feb/march and its at this time that a close eye on any light colonies is most usefull to the bees ( IMHO )
 

Skyhook 

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Isn't February a little early? I was taught not to open until the flowering currants are in flower
In my neck of the woods that could just about be February! I would find what people up North do- bearing in mind that, to you, most people up North are soft Southerners!
 

Chris B 

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Moggs,
you make beer? Where in Worcs. are you. I'll invite myself over. We've done 2 batches of honey beer this year ourselves and bottled it. Trade?:cheers2:

Just been to check home apiary as it's so windy. Bees are flying a little AND still a few wasps having a probe. I've never seen wasps active so late. Plus first woodpecker attack, 2 holes in the roof of a poly. Last year wire netting did the trick but it's not in place yet.

One thing to keep an eye out for from now onwards is evidence of mice (or worse rats) in the hives. Normally a mouseguard or other restrictor does the trick but sometimes they find a way in or make one if desperate. Piles of chewed wax seen at the entrance is a giveaway. Likewise dead leaves which are a favourite nesting material.
 

the naked beekeeper 

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As a new beekeeper, I find the 'hefting' of the hive very difficult to judge (I have done it a couple of times but can't really tell!). I haven't looked in there for a couple of months and when I last checked they had plenty of stores, but I'm fretting that they might have scoffed a load already. Should I put a block of fondant in just in case?
Depends how strong your colony is, in terms of bees, but a BS hive should be difficult to lift with both hands from the back.
Also have you taken any honey off? If so, How much and when?

To help yourself, in the following season, after an inspection where you know what is in the hive in terms of bees, stores, pollen etc, heft the hive after every inspection to give yourself something to compare against.

If you have friends with bees, heft theirs too. The more hives you handle the more experience you get.

You can put fondant on if you are worried, but if they need fondant already you are in trouble!!
No harm in leaving it there if you are worried. Put it over the crownboard feedhole and cover the top in clingfilm to retain moisture. Make sure the roof is still sat properly otherwise they will lose heat and you'll do more harm than good from your intentions.

My advice as PH said at the start, is just leave them alone!
You're natural to be anxious as a new beek in your first winter, but the bees know best. They want to survive after all!!!
 

wightbees 

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Depends how strong your colony is, in terms of bees, but a BS hive should be difficult to lift with both hands from the back.
Also have you taken any honey off? If so, How much and when?

To help yourself, in the following season, after an inspection where you know what is in the hive in terms of bees, stores, pollen etc, heft the hive after every inspection to give yourself something to compare against.

If you have friends with bees, heft theirs too. The more hives you handle the more experience you get.

You can put fondant on if you are worried, but if they need fondant already you are in trouble!!
No harm in leaving it there if you are worried. Put it over the crownboard feedhole and cover the top in clingfilm to retain moisture. Make sure the roof is still sat properly otherwise they will lose heat and you'll do more harm than good from your intentions.

My advice as PH said at the start, is just leave them alone!
You're natural to be anxious as a new beek in your first winter, but the bees know best. They want to survive after all!!!
Why do you think this. i have read links on this forum where this is done instead of Syrup with out any probs. Commercial too if i remember right.
Just asking :bigear:
 

Beezy 

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Thanks for the advice, naked beek - I'm sure I'm being irrational. I can't lift it with both hands, that's for sure, but I have a super underneath as well. I did help an experienced beekeeper over summer but didn't actually do any hefting so don't have anything to compare it against. I took a bit of honey off but left half and then fed syrup so they should have enough. Maybe I should invest in some of those scales...
 

Beezy 

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actually, do you mean lift right off the ground or just tilt? I can tilt it with one hand on one side but can't lift it right off...
 

oliver90owner 

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wightbees,

You are mixing up autumn feed for winter and feeding in winter.

Fondant, instead of sugar, is taken down by the bees during autumn feeding for winter; the bees add water and store it as sugar honey, ready for the winter.

Now if the hive is empty now, that is entirely a different matter. Worse still, is if they are feeding on a small area of stores when the temperaturess drop seriously and are unable to move to another patch of stores - isolation starvation, due really to insufficient stores in the first place.

Yes, going into winter with insufficient stores is a dereliction on the part of the beekeeper (or the bees are a poorly chosen strain) and usuallyindicated a small, not strong colony. Feeding fondant all winter is trouble. For a start it means there is little insulation value of stores frames, which they would normally have and if a small colony to start with, more trouble. And why small - perhaps not too healthy?

I always try to take strong, healthy colonies, with adequate stores, into winter.

That generally means no trouble. The alternatives are trouble.

Regards, RAB
 

oliver90owner 

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wightbees

Yes, the bottom picture and caption says it all. Not the same as arriving nearly at the middle of November with little or no stores in the hive.

Regards, RAB
 

Poly Hive 

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Lets keep some perspective here.

My case for instance, due to family issues I had to put my bees to bed in less than perfect condition so to ensure they have enough stores I have put fondant on them all.

In general though it is advisable to have them fed up with stores pre November.

When hefting a hive you lift it (usually from the back) gently about four inches off the ground and assess the weight. I have seen luggage acales for sale as little as £5. If unsure then use one of them and then double it, minus the hive and contents and lo you have your stores weight.

It is NOT rocket science folks.

PH
 

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