Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Final Preparations for the Cold

I'm sorry I've been a bit behind with my updates.  Since I've last posted, Mr. Bee has been busy getting the hives ready for winter and it's become rather chilly outside. We've had high temperatures in the forties lately. After a lot of thought and consideration, we did decide to only winter the strongest, middle hive.

We harvested our honey last night...in the kitchen.  We'll be putting everything in jars this week, so I'll share photos of the result soon.  We got about six gallons this year!  That's in addition to the six gallons that we're estimating we've left for the bees. While I'm busy trying to remedy all the stickiness in our kitchen and get some photos of our harvest, I'll leave you with a list of what we've been doing lately.  These photos are by Mr. Bee, on his phone.  I hope they come through your screen clearly.

We replaced the screened bottom board with a solid-bottom winter board. There are only three small holes for the bees to enter and we're hoping this change will keep mice out.

We left one packed-full super of honey, a second partially-capped super full of honey and a third with uncapped honey.  We're guessing this is upwards of 80 pounds of honey for them to use during winter. We are hearing it may be a hard winter like last year.  (I, along with much of the state, am hoping that isn't true.)

We inspected to make sure the queen is still laying, which she is.  The bees are already beginning to cluster, getting ready for the cold. In a few weeks I'm looking forward to writing a post about what bees do during the winter.  It's one of the questions we get asked the most.

We built a quilt box, which is a super filled with sawdust-filled socks to act as insulation and absorb moisture.  Mr. Martin, our beekeeping mentor, thought it was a good idea. This box also includes a small entrance hole. 

We added a drop-in inner cover for further insulation. Bees can handle cold, for the most part, but wet and cold is a deadly combination.  Therefore, we're mostly concerned about the moisture absorption.

Stay tuned for photos of this year's honey harvest!

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