Plans for Winter Months Ahead

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!

Comments For This Post: (5) | Post Your Comments! Hide The Comment Form
Diane (SpeedKin) says...
Date:   December 3, 2011, 6:37 pm

Welcome to the 21st century!  ;-)  Just letting you know it came through fine & dandy on my Thunderbird RSS.

Do you build your own hive bodies?  We bought from Dadant before but I think we'll start building our own, assuming we can pull ourselves out of last-minute-itis and start planning ahead a bit.  (Don't hold your breath.  *eyeroll*)

Chris (Show Me The Honey) says...
Date:   December 4, 2011, 7:56 am

I did build my own hives last year...It was fun and gave me something to do over the winter-time.  :)

I did a post last fall on how I made my own hives and I included a PDF set of directions too. Check them out and see what you think.

Dollar for dollar it was about the same price to build my own hives as it would have been to buy from a supplier (if the shipping from the supplier was free). However, if you have to add in $20-$50 for shipping from a supplier, then making your own hives is definitely cheaper.

Mark says...
Date:   December 6, 2011, 1:57 pm

Wow, building your own extractor seems very ambitious!  Are you going to need some serious welding skills for that?  I will be a new beekeeper this coming Spring and I will be building some hives over the winter as well.  I have quite a few frames assembled already.  Frames seemed more sensible to buy unassembled and put together myself.  Way too many intricate cuts and pieces for me to attempt cutting all those!

Here is my first attempt:

Diane (SpeedKin) says...
Date:   December 9, 2011, 6:14 pm

Mark, I just subbed to your blog.  :-)

Chris, thanks for the link!  I think I'd seen that before but then forgot all about it.  Maybe we'll get enough down time before spring to get some built.  Projects go year-round here!

Holly says...
Date:   December 11, 2011, 12:49 pm

Yes, definitely prepare for swarms.  I received a swarm last year and it swarmed again 2 times despite the 2 honey supers I added to give them more space hoping they wouldn't swarm.  I have one nuc box with 3 frames of drawn comb in case I need to hold onto a swarm for awhile.  I would suggest building at least 2 of those so you have a temporary resting place for the colony.  I sold a swarm on Craigslist for $50.00 the first year I was a beekeeper.  Selling swarms is a great way to meet more beekeepers and recoup some money. 

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