Received the following from our Gaston County Bee Association and wanted to pass along to all of you as well:
I hope you are having a good day and ready for the weekend. After Tuesday nights meeting I was asked several questions and I thought I would pass on some thoughts. The general consensus was that most everyone has got their honey for the year by either the extractor or just sticking their finger in a frame. So what do we need to do now?
Let’s start by establishing that our bee year ends with extraction and begins with getting the hive to extraction. At the end point “extraction” you only want to extract the honey from the hive that is surplus for the colony. If you take all the honey you are not helping the hive. So with that time line and wisdom from others let’s see if we can get your hives to extraction next year!
Brian Fisher, a queen rearing speaker we frequently interact with, says it takes three things to successfully get your bees to the end of the bee year. Those three things are healthy bees, well fed bees, and lots of bee! Now what does that simple comment really mean. Let’s take a look at each part and then put them together.
Healthy bees. What is the general health of each of your hives? Here is where some of your note taking will help you. What have you seen over the last few months and need to address if you haven’t yet. How about hive beetles. I would suggest a trap in each hive box. Have you seen sickly bees, ones that just do not look right? As Greg Fariss, our state inspector, has spoke about many things come back the Varroa Mites. Do a sugar shake and get a Varroa Mite count, >3 then treat! I agree with the general thought that if you need to treat one hive treat all the hives in that yard. There are several things you can use to treat for Varroa Mites so find one you are comfortable with.
Well fed bees. If you have hives full of honey then you are covered, but this is not usually the picture. Start feeding your hives but do not create feeding frenzies. Field feeding in the middle of your yard might not be a good thing. Hive top feeders are a good way to cut down on the frenzy and robbing. Remember you want to feed sugar water now and not in the winter. Give the hive plenty of time to get the sugar water dehydrated.
Lots of bees. In general if you have taken care of the first two items starting now, the bees will take care of the numbers.
As always if you have a question, ask! The next few months are what will make or break you in the spring. We all have stories as new beekeepers of what we thought we had in the hives but really did or did not. Your true test comes around January to February when we usually get our coldest weather.