Thursday, November 24, 2011

Preparing for next year.

The bees have finally been forced to retreat to their hives. The temperature has now  dropped to around a maximum of 10 or 11 degrees. Its cold, damp and not beekeeping weather.

Its now the time to start to prepare frames, hives and traps for next years season, which will hopefully start around the first week of March. All that is left to do is to give my 5 framed hives a feed of candy or bakers fondant next month. This slab of sugar should help the smaller sized colonies through the winter. I have fed all my colonies with liquid  sugar earlier in september but its far too late for the bees to be able to dry sugar syrop this time of the year. They can eat sugar candy anytime providing its warm enough for them to get to it.

Winter Jobs

All hives that are empty and have been used should be disinfected by passing a blowtorch flame over the surface of the interior. Not too much though, you dont want a charred interior and to burn off all the lovely propolis that the previous inhabitants have left. This is a great resource if a swarm becomes availible. They are much less likely to absconde if a hive has a good smell . Heating  up  the surface to just see the propolis become liquid is usually sufficient. You dont need a fancy blowtorch either. I use one that runs off replacable  gaz cylinders. Obviously, remove your base and each subsequent part of the hive. The Nicot plastic base is not very blow torch Friendly.  For this you can clean this on bleach and hot water. Also hives are very good at catching fire. Always leave your hive outside to cool off. The environment of "shed world" is such a great place for a fire to start.

Jobs to do around the Apiary

Check around all of your hives for overhanging branches than might tap against the hive. If they become laiden by snow it is surprising just how far a branch can be lowered by the weight of snow.
Here is a picture of my hives last year on 2nd december when we had 35cms of snow overnight. You can see that the shrubbery around was knocking on the hive body due to the weight of snow.

In the next post I will show you how to put dadant frames together, wire them up and fit them with their wax sheet ,ready for the season.. I buy my frames not put together (in kit form). They are cheaper like this and what else would you rather be doing over the winter months?