This is a short book written by David Burns. It is available as an E-book from Amazon for those of you that have a “Kindle” e-reader. I was able to borrow a Kindle from my sister and read the book.
Nothing you haven't heard before, but it summarizes in one place the necessary steps to get your bees through the winter. It also explains the reasons for each step.
Here is what I gleaned from this book.
1) The biggest cause of winter loss of hives is the varroa mites and the viruses it spreads. If you don’t have year round mite monitoring and control you are doomed to have high winter losses.
2) You must have strong colonies in the late summer/early fall prior to the colony going into cluster. Bees should be heavily present on every frame until cluster.
3) He encouraged feeding in late summer and early fall of both sugar AND POLLEN (or POLLEN SUBSTITUTE) to encourage raising of fat winter bees. This is addition to fall feeding many beekeepers already do to top off the colony’s winter stores.
4) Re-queening in late summer helps with raising large quantities of winter bees.
5) Other minor aids such as screened bottom boards, mouse guards, etc were discussed.
6) He stated good beekeepers inspect their colonies every two weeks.
So here we are getting ready to go into winter and I am reviewing in my mind where I may have slipped up. I have treated for mites twice and plan to do it once more. I can’t say all of my colonies are “strong”. I did combine several, but based on this book I should have combined several more. I did feed about half of my colonies (weaker ones and new colonies), but not the stronger ones. Although I re-queened many colonies in late summer I can’t say I was following his recommendation.
This year my late summer/ early fall preparation for winter was better than any previous year and I am hoping for higher winter survival. Next year I will add in the feeding of pollen in the fall.