It now mid-December. The days will still be getting shorter until the winter solstice which occurs on December 21st. Temperatures to date have not been cold enough to really test the bees. If you completed your mite treatments on time last fall there shouldn’t be any issues with hive survival. But remember that even in pre-varroa days an 85% winter survival rate was typical. Even with treatments survival is never guaranteed. Unfortunately for me, I have already had my first winter casualty; a topbar hive that went silent last weekend. So far, I haven’t had time or inclination to investigate. But over the years my topbar hives have had lower winter survival. I think a major contributor to this is the difficulty in working (inspections, feeding, treating, etc.) with topbar hives.
Last summer in our area the honey harvest was down. The general consensus was that it was down by two thirds. Most beekeepers pointed to a cooler and wetter spring and summer. This slowed population buildup and reduced foraging opportunities. This is being brought up in December because your hives may be light on winter stores. A quick inspection of your hives and possible adding of emergency feed is recommended. See the December 2nd post for one possible winter feeding method. Other methods have been and will be discussed at our regular monthly club meetings.
On the bright side, some experts say that after the solstice the queen will again begin laying and brood production. So we see the yearly cycle starting again.
The next EWBCA club meeting will be at 9:30 AM on Saturday, December 15th in the basement of the Caestecker Public Library in Green Lake. Old members and any potential new members are always welcome to attend.