Winter policy in a mess, rescue measures...

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Poly Hive

Queen Bee
Dec 4, 2008
Reaction score
Scottish Borders
Hive Type
Number of Hives
12 and 18 Nucs
I set out to put down for winter some 25 nucs + some 15 colonies, and this was timed at 6 weeks or so ago.

My grand plan was to unite some poor doers, and gift the queens on.

Life intervened. My beloved MIL took very seriously ill, and in fact died for a few minutes until resuscitated. That situtaion took our focus off other matters, and then my darling wife slipped two discs, done by turning in bed and sneezing/coughing simultaneously.

Ok so a total loss of focus which I have never had pre winter before.

Yesterday I hefted some nucs and was shocked. Light.... think helium!

So thinking cap on what to do?

I happened to have some insulation material to hand so have made ekes to fit on top of the nucs. These are 100mm deep, or 4" in old money.

Tomorrow they will go on to accommodate slabs of fondant.

Over the summer I was monitoring varroa by checking the drone comb. As I never saw one beastie... I am happy to treat in December with Oxalic acid, and with luck my losses will be reasonable. I AM expecting losses, not because of lack of food or Vaorroa but because of putting down to winter colonies which do not deserve that ill treatment. They should have been united, and sadly are not, but such is real life.......

I AM expecting losses, not because of lack of food or Vaorroa but because of putting down to winter colonies which do not deserve that ill treatment.

Hey there, sorry about the way things have gone dude, just trying to understand your line mind - what does the last part mean?

My biggest concern is stores at present and I too have a plan along the same lines with the nucs - so fondant blocks made good today.

Some are really too weak to go into winter and should have been united.

Hope all works out, PH

I would definitely feed fondant - possibly pop in a spare brood comb full of honey if you saved one from the summer, You could unite - I did as a last resort 2 weeks ago.

Agree on the oxalic - and you'd do no harm wrapping the colonies in insulation - just make sure they can breathe !

Best of luck

They are all in poly, no more insulation required, fondant is ready, just need to buy in more for the colonies in brood boxes now the green house is empty to take the frames from the supers.

No brood frames available.

Onwards and over winter... lol

will you leave fondant on all Winter as is?
All the best, Pete. They may be more resilient than you think...All that fondant may just do the trick.
Hope SHMBO is feeling better- give her my love- wow- you doing breakfasts and bed making:ack2:
TLC required in every corner there...
Its always nice to read about the mistakes/problems people have...not in a gloating way but to learn and take warning + shows you are a real keeper and not a keyboard text book warrior.

Need to check mine next weekend available, but just keep over looking.

Sounds like you are doing all you can for them now?
Well Heather they are a bit dodgy to be honest, and I was very keen to unite, *and donate* but I have to deal with reality not the arm chair dream.

Beds? Oh you mean sheet flapping... lol and yes that is my domain and worse now she is improving I have to keep her from over doing it... talk about a job of work... LOL

My brekkies are **not being modest** pretty bloody good...

Jim? Yes doing all I can but I have to be realistic and that is to accept it s not a good situation, but consequential to more serious matters.

Really hope all works out, sometimes bees have to take a back seat and quite rightly too.
Hopefully this winter will be kind and with your expert care they will pull through, I doubt that they could be in better hands
All the best
great sympathy to the wife, been walking around for a few weeks like a tea pot myself with a stiff back.

as for the heart stopping, well some woman will do any thing to get out of doing the washing up, tell her next time to have a headache instead it's less painfull, lots of well wish love to her,pete

I know how it feels when every thing goes wrong with the bees, i put every thing on hold this spring for my sons ill health, and came back to a complete mess,do these people not realise how important bees are,some people are just selfish, just because my son has a brain tummour he wanted every one to stop and deal with him.

as for the bees , i was hoping to be looking at double figure bee hives this winter but all i have is two in the shed and the scaby four at a friends farm still under quarantine. a complete waste of a years work
It's not a waste, Pete. Things can improve only if there is something

Your start in the spring will hopefully allow you to quicky make up at least some of the lost ground! Sometimes things have to be prioritised. I have been in the same sort of boat as you lately, but not as seriously as your problems throughout the last season.

Regards, RAB
Far be it from me to offer advice to a much more experienced beekeeper than me...

But so far, my experience has been that the bees have been able to cope despite my best efforts! Hope the principle holds good for you Poly.
As they are in Poly PH could they not cope with a late unite? Anyway, I hope it does work out for you; you give a great deal on here, and would hate for you to have a bad winter. ;)
Thanks every one and for the lovely PM's I received over night.

I am off to the bees this afternoon and will take some pics and post again later as to how things are.

Now I have to go and hoover the cellar and get rid of the floormate dust... any volunteers? Hmm thought not...


P H sorry to hear about the unlucky circumstances.
In the past under-fed feral colonies had to survive Winters... Anyway, hope the fondant does the trick and pray that winter isn't too harsh!

Good Luck,

Ben P
Well there is good and bad news to report.

I have lost one to a mouse, or perhaps it was already dead. Yes it was a mouse as I saw it! A further two Langstrogh nucs made up late in the season have gone as has one National. A further two are very dodgy, only two seams of bees, so I expect they will pack in before Christmas.

The good news is the rest vary from average to very good indeed, and the very good ones are a good half of the situation, and they were made up in May so it shows that giving them a good run at building up is no bad thing. I had thought of putting some of them into full hives but then thought was it really worth buying all that kit and then encouraging myself to get even bigger which neither I nor the wife want.

Unfortunately my hands were so sticky I couldn't get pics of the strong nucs but will try to on the next visit, and nor did the pics of my home made mouse excluders come out due to blur. Again I will retake on the next visit.

So I am not as down hearted as I thought I might be. :)

glad to hear the story ain't too bad, P.H.

best wishes to the Mrs., having had 2 ops on collapsed discs, I can empathise.

btw, interesting brick signage on the hives, I've heard of it, but never seen it in action!!! I won't even begin to try and work it out!
LOL very straight forward.

On arrival I walked down the line looking for activity at front doors. The suspect ones I put the brick vertically, my distress signal as it were. Right enough that one you can see was dead.

I am guessing that the pollen in the entrance pic is Winter Jasmine, as there is a village just a half mile away over three fields.

Note there are not mouse guards on the poly hives as I have not known one get in yet... famous last words.. LOL

I put mouse guards on all the n ucs before I put on the ekes and fondant so that if my back gave out on me at least they were protected from those bl**dy mice. In fact Ii managed to feed them all apart from the main colonies, and they will be fed when the new fondant arrives.