It looks like we will be going into a deep freeze later this week with temperatures running 10 to 15 degrees F below zero for several days. This will be the first real test of our bees this winter. I followed Gerard’s lead and went out today and made sure all my hives had sufficient emergency feed to carry them through the next two weeks. Bees eat one to two pounds of honey or sugar per week in the winter. So I made sure each hive had roughly 4 pounds of emergency feed if needed to carry them over this cold snap. I also took data on hive status at the same time. Hive survival is still at 97% and winter nucs at 100%. I am still unsure if the high survival rate is do to the mite treatments done last summer and fall or the warm winter temperatures we had been blessed with until now. I hope the survival rate is still this high when the cold snap is over. Meanwhile I will be hunkering down in my warm workshop.
For the beekeeper who is handy with tools, winter is a good time to assemble and/or build beekeeping equipment. If your capabilities are limited to nailing and painting, you can cut beekeeping costs by assembling and painting super boxes and frames. You can use the money saved to buy an extra package of bees to expand your apiary or just lower the total expense of the hobby.
Wooden frame with wax foundation.
For those who have access to a table saw the potential for savings are much greater. Shown below are a few items that I enjoyed making; nucs, inner and outer telescoping covers (for nucs or full size hives), swarm catching boxes. Since my labor is free the only cost is for materials. For example, a nuc sells for $30-45, but my cost is roughly $15 plus my time. Building your own equipment is another dimension to the hobby and you get more satisfaction knowing you made it yourself.
Five frame nuc box.
Inner cover for a five frame nuc box. Full size inner cover is just 6 inches or so wider.
Swarm trapping box. The top portion is a five frame nuc with a 4 inch extension added below. Four eyebolts are present to aid holding the swarm trap in a tree with ropes or bungee cords.
Rear of swarm box has a screened hole to allow air circulation. The screen is hard to seen in this photo. The fine screen blocks out entrance of bees, mice and birds. This screens was salvaged from a disassembled 3 pound bee package box.
The front entrance is also screened with 1/4 inch hardware cloth. The larger size screen lets in bees, but not mice or birds.