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I began this blog to chronicle my beekeeping experiences. I have read lots of beekeeping books, but nothing takes the place of either hands-on experience with an experienced beekeeper or good pictures of the process. I want people to have a clearer picture of what to expect in their beekeeping so I post pictures and write about my beekeeping saga here. Along the way, I've passed a number of certification levels and am now a!
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Friday, March 02, 2007

What I've Learned from the Hive Death

So far this is what I have learned:

1. At the end of the season I left a super on each of my hives instead of forcing them into one box or even two. The super on each hive had frames of capped and uncapped honey in it - every frame had some honey. I thought this would add to the stores that the bees had in the medium super.

The bees moved up through the hive as the winter went on. The super didn't contain enough honey to support the hive and when they got there, they ate all there was, but didn't come back into the medium where there were four full frames of capped honey.

Michael Bush says that bees have a hard time making a decision as a group. If they were trying to decide where to cluster when the cold weather hit and there were no more stores in the shallow super, then they couldn't move down. Next year I don't want to give them too many options as I did this year.

Next year I am going to force the hive down into the brood box and feed honey back to them in that box rather than leave the super.

2. Even when it is cold, it would be better to open the hive if I have any doubt about the stores rather than leave it up to chance in an effort to protect the bees from the cold. Without food they can't keep it warm enough to protect themselves from the cold.

3. I need to learn to see the queen in the hive. I'm pretty sure Destin had been without a queen for quite some time since there was absolutely no evidence of brood raising in the hive. I need to learn the signs of a winter time queenless hive and I need to be able to FIND THE QUEEN.

4. I need to learn more about winter feeding. I didn't want to feed patties to the bees because I had the beginnings of a small hive beetle problem and they explode in population if you feed a hive grease patties. I had a deep frame feeder, but members of my bee club said that bees often drown in those. I need to learn how to approach the feeding so that I don't help the SHB population but still provide for my bees. What I did in Destin was to put in a Mason jar from my Boardman feeder with holes punched in the top. I set that directly on top of the frames and saw sugar water leaking onto the ground below the hive - this is obviously not the right answer either.

5. I need a better system for hive inspection during the winter. I leave for work as the sun is coming up in the winter and come home after dark. This means that any inspections I do are on the weekends. Often on winter weekends, it is rainy, cold or not a good day for some other reason. I need a to commit to checking on my hives on a regular basis in the winter (even if that means only lifting the hive to see how heavy it is). I did that infrequently (about once a month if that) during this past winter.

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