Preparing for winter

By | September 16, 2012

A good looking frame, full of wax capped honey

A good looking frame, full of wax capped honey

As well as harvesting honey, autumn is a time to prepare for the cold winter months. Its important not to take too much honey away from the bees, as they need to feed on that when they stay in the winter hive. You didn’t think they made it for our benefit now did you…?

Winter preparations also mean pest management, particularly for varroa mite. After the honey harvest, pungent packs of apiguard are placed in the hive. Apiguard is a gel containing thymol, a substance derived from the thyme plant which has the effect of knocking varroa out of the hive. This is a 6 week treatment, and is done after the honey harvest. The apiguard treatment smells quite antiseptic, and can taint the honey’s taste, so its best done once you’ve removed the honey crop.

This treatment affects the varroa developing inside pupae cells. Later in December, Oxalic acid is squirted on the bees which affects the mites not developing inside cells, but in the hive and on the bee’s backs. Oxalic acid treatment is done in December, as the queen should be laying much less brood at this time.

If the bees haven’t collected enough honey, its also suggested to feed a sugar syrup directly to the colony, while the autumn days are still warm. A starving hive is due to the inaction of an irresponsible bee keeper.

Getting rid of as much varroa as possible, and ensuring ample honey store sets the colony up with a good chance to survive winter, and emerge healthy in spring.

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