Autumn Bee Check & Early Winter Hive Prep

We did a quick bee check of all three hives today. It was a fairly temperate day, and we just had our first frost, so all the signs point towards checking bees while we still can. Snow will be upon us soon enough. This is probably the last or second to last check of the bees until spring

Our goals for checking the bees in fall:

  1. Start moving honey frames towards the center – the bees will form a big warm ball of bees in the center of the hive, likely the middle or lower deep. They won’t go far to get honey, even if they are hungry. Also they likely will move up the hive, so it’s important that the middle deep is where most of the honey is at
  2. Check for mites – hives 1 and 3 both have mites, so we decided to treat all three hives with Hop Guard. Mites create bees with deformed wings, kill baby bees before they hatch and generally cause decline in bee populations. The cardboard strips of Hop Guard are placed over the deep frames, two to a hive box. They are not placed in the honey “supers” higher up in the hive.
  3. Treat for hive beetles – hive 1 has beetles so we decided to put beetle traps in all three hives. The trap is just a clear injection molded compartment that we fill with safflower oil. You can use canola oil, or other type of cooking oil that’s lying around. The beetles check in, but they don’t check out.

Later on this month we’ll install mouse guards to the entrances. These sheet metal shields are perforated to allow bees to come and go, but they won’t let rodents enter the main entrance of the hive. Up top we’ll place a queen excluder screen to keep the mice out of the top of the hive, as well.

Sometime in November I’ll fashion insulating shells, from 2″ rigid insulation. The insulating shells will protect the hives from what is supposed to be a very cold winter. This will be a pain to do every year. I’d like to invent a hive with rigid insulation built into the boxes. This would regulate temperatures year round just like an old hollow tree trunk would (that’s my theory at least).

The bees seem happy, as happy as bees can be. Hive No. 2 should be fine, as should hive No. 1. Hive No. 3 is lagging behind honey-wise and bee population-wise, so I’m uncertain. All three hives have eggs and / or a visible queen (we saw hive No. 1 queen today).

Here are today’s photos including a bee birthday.

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2 thoughts on “Autumn Bee Check & Early Winter Hive Prep

  1. there is a lot to think about with bee hives, that is what I am learning. I picked up a book on hive management and didn’t have time to read all the way through but i was surprised to learn that you have to keep rodents and skunks and what have you out of the hive. I imagine myself having no luck with that at all!! hah Plus mites and beetles – oh my! I sure hope you have no trouble with your hives in the winter- that would be so heartbreaking. The do look like happy bees in the photos. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Putting the hive on stands keeps the raccoons away; they don’t like standing up and exposing their bellies to stings. We had mice living on top of the hive last winter. We have a game plan for combating that this year.

      It’s a great hobby. I highly recommend it. Very rewarding and not as daunting as you’d think, though it is a decent amount of work every 2-3 weeks for a few hours.

      Also your garden will go bonkers with flowers throughout the year. And your veggies will prosper.

      Liked by 1 person

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