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Winter is just around the corner (officially starts 1 June). Here are some things to think about to get your bees through the cold winter months.
There is an ARRRT to wintering down a Beehive and this is kiwimana’s guide on how to do it with this simple 5 step method.
Assess – Record – Rearrange – Reduce – Treat
The aim is to check each frame and assess, you need to look out for…:-
- Brood frames but you’ll need to be more specific about whats in them, so check…
- Are there eggs – How old? …is there Larvae or capped brood?
- Are there frames with mostly pollen?
- How many frames do you have with just Honey
- Are there some frames with nectar in them
- Are there any empty frames?
- Assess how many bees you have?
As you inspect each frame record the details, note on your inspection sheet. Here is the one we use :- Hive Inspection Check Sheet. The aim of recording is so you can then plan your next step which is, to rearrange the frames. Use the handy guide :-.
3. Rearrange Frames
The aim of rearranging the frames or removing empty frames is so all the brood is in one box. This is so the cluster can stay in one place.
The Handy Guide shows the ‘ideal’ as follows;
You’ll place eggs in the middle, then larvae either side and capped brood either side.
4. Reduce the Boxes
We reduce the colonies down to two full sized boxes or three, three-quarter sized boxes (dependent on the current configuration and number of bees in the hive).
We keep one full-box of honey on the top and one to two honey-frames on the side of the brood box. Commonly it is recommended that in the Auckland area you will need at least six (full sized) frames of honey in the colony.
Check out the handy guide as referred above.
We try and get a configuration like this, this will change dependent on the amount of brood you still have.
4.1. Reduce the Entrance
Your cluster of bees will reduce over the winter months, so you need to help them to defend their hives from attackers (such as wasps), we reduce the entrances on how hives to a 3 cm (1 inch) by 8mm high. This is about three bee spaces. This is for a moderate threat, but for a major threat, add a robbing-screen and put access to the smallest access and then leave the reduction as well. Margaret says that for wasp threats and wax-moth entry – 2 bee spaces is recommended.
The smaller entrance will make it much easier for the bees to defend their entrance as the cluster gets smaller.
If you have a kiwimana Robbing Screen, change the opening to the smallest one.Remove any Queen Excluders you still have on your hive. If the cluster in your hive moves up through the Excluder the queen many get left behind and die.
Wintering down requires that all treatments are completed, as you want to make sure your bees go in to winter with a very low count of varroa mites. Work out a way to measure the mite load in your beehive, and treat accordingly.
Always check mite levels before and after treatments to ensure the treatment worked.
Here are two methods you can use to count mites
If you have Solid bottom board ensure the hive is raised from the back, so water runs out and doesn’t collect in the hive.
What do you do?
This is a what we do, but do you have any other tips to help others. Please comment below and tell us what we are missing?