So, winter has come. Snow first fell in 2012 on October 3rd, so the first snow fall for Calgary to be on October 27th 2013 is pretty awesome. I am not sure if you saw it, but the bees were bringing in pollen and maybe some nectar on even the 26th (with its high of +19)! Then, the snow fell and the daytime temperatures peaked at +4!
- What are the bees doing in the hive anyways?
- Should I have fed?
- Is it too late to feed?
- Can I get back in to the hive to check on them?
Here are some answers:
- The short 4 page publication from Adony Melathopoulos of Beverlodge Alberta Research Centre will give you an idea of how bees metabolize energy, produce heat, breathe, and survive the winter.
- Here is a great resource that I published about winterization: http://www.backyardbees.ca/free/winter
You can also have a look at Michael Bush’s excellent page on feeding: http://www.bushfarms.com/beesfeeding.htm
- It is too late to liquid feed. Always remember these key things:
- WET BEES ARE DEAD BEES
- Bees need feed/nectar to reach a max moisture content of 21% to cap or be considered ripened
- Bees use heat to evaporate the excess moisture out of the feed/nectar to ensure ripening
- Too cold of outside temperatures inhibit moisture from exiting the hive creating a ‘cloud’ above the bees
- Temperature changes throughout the winter can cause moisture to freeze or melt at the top of the convection (above the bees) and drip on to the bees
- WET BEES ARE DEAD BEES
– It isn’t too late to feed with Fondant or dry feed: Attached is a fondant recipe. You can make pucks and tuck them between the frames if you are very concerned about the bees surviving the winter.
- You will need to wait until there is a 14-day trend in weather, above 15 degrees, to get in to your hive once your hive is prepped for winter. Last year, that was the last weeks of April. Have a look at the http://www.theweathernetwork.com/14-day-weather-trend/canada/alberta/calgary website often, even make it your homepage if you would like! Knowing what is coming is a great way to prepare.
- You can also find a stethoscope and use it to check the hive through the wood in the winter for activity
- I also know of beekeepers who use digital thermometers on the top of their top bars in the insulation which display the information to their digital viewer in the house.
– These actions don’t aid your bees in surviving, but they do aid in the winters pace, and ease your wary beekeepers mind!
I hope this was a help to you as you look out the window at the decreasing daylight hours!