Into the Snow- Beekeeping woes of winters coming

Good Morning,

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!

  1. What are the bees doing in the hive anyways?
  2. Should I have fed?
  3. Is it too late to feed?
  4. Can I get back in to the hive to check on them?

Here are some answers:

  1.  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.
  1. 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

  1. It is too late to liquid feed. Always remember these key things:
    1. WET BEES ARE DEAD BEES
    2. Bees need feed/nectar to reach a max moisture content of 21% to cap or be considered ripened
    3. Bees use heat to evaporate the excess moisture out of the feed/nectar to ensure ripening
    4. Too cold of outside temperatures inhibit moisture from exiting the hive creating a ‘cloud’ above the bees
    5. 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
    6. 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.

  1. 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.
    1. You can also find a stethoscope and use it to check the hive through the wood in the winter for activity
    2. 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!

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