Hey Everyone, Well with the start of Autumn on upon us, its time to start thinking about the girls winding down as the approach their winter slumber.
For us here on the Newcastle coastal fringes we have a little bit more time then most beekeepers depending on conditions ahead but generally in May is a good time to winterise the colonies.
For those of you that are a little more inland by the start of May is a great time to be prepared.
So the hints and tips I have for you.....
- Plan ahead - What equipment will I need? (here's some thoughts for you)
- Room in the freezer for frames
- Good sealed Storage boxes
- Storage shelves for spare boxes
-Jars or containers for honey storage
- Hive mat's
-Feeders (if required)
- White Sugar and Pollen supplement
- When preparing your apiary in early autumn be sure to understand the strength of each colony and their current food stores of Honey and Pollen.
-Strong colonies require a minimum of 5-6 full frames of honey in a second super and the equivalent of 1 frame of pollen in the brood box.
-Weaker colonies (less than 8 frames) will need to be fed a heavier white sugar mix 2:1 to build stores for winter and be monitored closely.
-Weaker colonies hives should have their entrance reduced to about 2-5cm to aid in preventing robbing behaviour from stronger hives.
-As the over night temperatures drop a hive mat can be introduced to the top of the brood box either under the excluder in really cold climates or on top of the excluder in milder climates. This hive mat acts as a heat retainer for the brood development but also should allow access to the honey stores if above in a super box.
- Flow hive owners running two super boxes should consider taking off the Flow Frames for winter and extract all remaining honey then clean and store for winter.
- All excess Honey frames including Flow Frames should be extracted and then placed in freezer for 24-48hrs to kill any possible pests before being stored in a sealed preferably clear container.
- Ensure you have conducted your DPI compliance inspection and sugar shake test for this half of the year with a second one required in Spring/Summer. This is a legislative requirement.
- Consider re-queening your hive at this time of year, a young over wintered queen will perform much better early in spring and honey production is much higher and colony strength far better. Queens are not generally available until late October/ November from the queen breeders depending on demand meaning you miss out on springtime honey if you have an older queen. It can also go a long way to mitigate swarming in your apiary in Spring and help in preventing brood disease like chalkbrood as the weather warms back up.
As always I am here to provide professional beekeeping services, I have been very busy and taking bookings for April already, so if you need assistance on winterising, DPI compliance checks or just some confidence building then please just request a booking with me and we'll get it sorted together.