After conducting the usual list of club business we got around to discussing the problem of getting your hives through the winter. In pre-varroa days the biggest danger to a hive was moisture and starvation. However, now the biggest danger is varroa mites and the viruses they carry. So make sure you treat your hives for varroa. Many members report using MAQS in August with follow up oxalic acid vapor or dribble treatments in September and October.
This summer was unusual and many hives have not filled the bottom two brood chambers with honey. Heavy fall feeding was recommended. The upper brood chamber box of a 10 frame box will weigh approximately 90 pounds when full of honey or honey substitute. Eight frame boxes will be proportionately less. This 90 pound weight is considered sufficient to get a hive through a normal winter. People running 8 frame boxes should consider adding a full medium super to get to that 90 pound requirement.
For the benefit of the new members/new beekeepers several of the established members brought in examples of how they ensure adequate hive ventilation and provide the hive with emergency food in the winter. Emergency feeding is above and beyond the amounts mentioned above. Some winters the emergency food is consumed and sometimes it is untouched. But a few pounds of emergency feed is cheap insurance compared to the cost of a package of bees. Six presenters and six totally different designs. But all designs provided ventilation to let any moisture/condensation escape and provide room to slip in an emergency food supply. Show below are a few pictures of their handicraft.
Gerard providing a few introductory remarks.
Oxalic acid vaporizer made by adapting a insect fogger. NOTE: Not USDA approved. Various designs of this type can be seen on YouTube.
Simplest winter emergency feeder. 3 inch rim plus rug over sugar
Most complex design includes center feeder, upper entrance, ventilation holes, blanket to prevent air from ventilation holes getting directly into the brood chamber.
Simple rim plus hardware cloth bottom where sugar is placed. Covered with fiberglass insulation
Note insulating board has groove cut to provide ventilation.
See ventilation slots in sides. Top is insulation board.