19 August 2023
Winter 2023 preparation check-list

Advice from the Secretary.

Hi Everyone,
I realise that this winter prep checklist could be 'teaching my granny to suck eggs' and that some of you have been getting bees through winters for 50+ years. However not everybody has so here it is.

Strong, healthy colonies with younger queens & plenty of stores survive best.

Here are some things to think about...

1.      Time to collect the late summer crop, (maybe not this year)! Normally honey is ready for harvest when 75% or more of a frame is capped. Use a refractor if you are not sure or leave it for the bees. ‘Wet’ extracted supers can be given back to a (ideally the same) colony to remove the last of the honey. Store empty super frames in a way to avoid wax moths, consider sterilising with 80% acetic acid.

2.      Ensure adequate stores of honey or feed. Around 20kg of stores is recommended per colony. This year some are finding colonies in need of summer feeding due to poor weather. Sugar syrup is suitable for autumn (feed in the evening) prior to the first frosts (2kg sugar to 1 litre of water) and fondant for winter. Ambrosia fondant or Fondabee are popular winter choices, often fed around Christmas when stores are low.

3.      Consider uniting weak colonies, having checked thoroughly for signs of queenlessness, disease or pests.

4.      Robbing - Consider entrance blocks if robbing by wasps or bees is an issue. If you use a wasp trap, this should be sited well away from your colonies.

5.      Monitoring Varroa - A varroa count will give an indication of the level of any infestation. An average drop of above 10 mites per day probably requires treatment.

6.      Treat for Varroa if needed. Remove any honey supers before treatment. If you decide that levels do not merit a chemical treatment in August, you can still do an oxalic treatment in winter when the bees are clustered and there is very little brood. All chemical treatments should be recorded and records kept for 5 years – sample form on the website veterinarymedicineadministrationrecord.pdf (dingwallbeekeepers.org)

7.      Remove the queen excluder once you have removed the honey. The bees can suffer from isolation starvation if the cluster (with the queen) cannot move into the stores.

8.      Remove the strips if you have used an autumn varroa treatment such as Apivar.

9.      Consider putting the super of stores below the brood box (nadiring) or above.

10.    Make sure you are on a small entrance setting and add mouse guards.

11.    Consider insulating the hive, depending upon the hive you have. Lots of options and opinions on this.

12.    Strap down well!

Kind regards,

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