Hive check – Friday, February 17, 2017. 52 degrees and sunny.
The previous statement, pretty much says it all, doesn’t it ? We as beekeepers have been waiting for a day like this and certainly the bees have been waiting.
There’s a certain satisfaction when you enter the bee yard on a day like that. The air is humming with activity and the fronts of many of the hives are covered with bees. For the most part anyway.
Hopefully all of you felt this way on Friday. There are those survivors and those that did not.
I’ll walk you through my apiary and let you know what I found.
Having been gone for the most part of last August, I did not get to do my mite treatments when I had originally planned them. I vaporize with oxalic acid and have had decent success with that.
So, treatments took place over a three week period in September. Beekeeper Fred warned us last October to not trust the earlier treatments, since he had found a much higher mite count later in the season than you want. So, October I treated again and was surprised at the mite count that I had on the sticky boards.
My winter prep is to leave enough honey on the hive, reduce the entrances, and put a super on top with screened side vents, with a screened bottom, filled with wood shavings and on top a 1 inch piece of Styrofoam under the telescoping cover. The plans for the ventilation box were found at Strathconabeekeepers website
I use all 8 frame equipment and go into winter with a combination of three deeps, or a combination of mediums and deeps that equal the same size as three deeps.
Last winter (2015-2016) I went into spring with 7 out of 9 living and flying. This year, so far, I have 6 out of 9 living and flying and looking quite strong. Their honey stores are still quite well stocked and I have started feeding AP23 patties to a couple of hives. It’s still a long ways to spring and weather can happen in Wisconsin at any time.
Two of the dead outs can be attributed to mites. They have the characteristic trait of leaving behind their feces on the face of the comb. The third one looks like they went into winter with a small cluster and no brood found. I did not re-queen last fall and feel that this was a fatal mistake.
Being a farmer, there is always next year, and next year will always be better than last year.
Hoping that you find only pleasant surprises this spring.