Now that the weather is noticeably colder outside, and the first bit of snow is in the forecast for this weekend, a few friends have asked: "Are the bees tucked in for the long winter ahead?"
"Yeah they are..." is about the only response I can give. There's not a lot for beekeepers to do in the winter time with regards to the bees themselves.
We've spent the last several weeks making sure the queens are alive, colonies are healthy and strong and most importantly have plenty of stores for themselves to eat over winter.
That being said, there are still plenty of things for beekeepers to do in preparation for spring like reading bee biology books, making new hive bodies, nailing together new frames, painting old equipment, etc.
This winter I hope to be able to accomplish the following goals:
- Repaint the white hive bodies from the colony that was combined with Hive #2 at my dad's house.
- Built a second hive-top feeder (I really like those!)
- Try making a small batch of sugar mush (winter feed) even though I hope I won't need it.
- Research differences between cedar chips and pine chips for smoker fuel. It sometimes seemed like cedar pet bedding chips as smoker fuel aggravated the hive when used. I Might switch to pine chips or pine needles for next year.
- I've got mixed feelings about catching swarms in the spring. I'd love to catch (or lure) a swarm, but I don't have the place to keep another hive. Maybe I should build some extra equipment to have ready just in case.
- Build our own electric honey extractor. We've already got the motor and speed control, so we'll be looking for some type of drum and then to manufacturer the basket to hold the frames. We're going for a radial extractor style as opposed to tangential. When we start this project, I'll be sure to post pictures!