Winterizing the bees πŸ

Hey all! Sorry it’s been so long since we have posted. It’s been quite rainy in Vermont and lots of obscure sickness at the homestead. Thankfully we are on the up and up!

We started preparing for winterizing last month. We built quilt boards and candy shims. On Saturday October 6th we started by reversing the bottom boxes on the hives; you want the heavier box on the bottom so the bees work their way up in the winter. Once they go up they do not go back down to the cold for any honey left. We also placed heaters our friend Scott sent to us to help with winters sub zero temperatures. Below are some pictures of that day. I also included a photo of the most epic bee-sting we affectionally call BEEtox. That bee stung me right though my veil. It made for one entertaining evening at the house!

The beginning of the quilt boards. I’ll explain them more soon but the candy shims look a lot like this as well. We won’t use them until the end of January/early February to feed the bees some more.

I promised back in July to talk about mites and why we treat for them. We treated in July, late August and while winterizing. When honey bees are infested with mites its like walking around with a rabbit on your back. Now imagine if you had to carry around more than one rabbit on your back all day? This YouTube video explains why we treat for mites, diseases that come with them and the worst case scenario; entire comply collapse. The great news about treating for mites is there are organic options available that won’t harm us, the bees or the honey.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-wDgd5yURo

For winterizing we tried a new method of treating for mites using a shop towel, glycerin and oxalic acid. We followed instructions from The Honey Bee Suite blog: https://honeybeesuite.com/oxalic-acid-and-glycerin-for-varroa-mites/

These shop towels were placed on top of the the second from the bottom large deep hive.

The next step in winterizing was to make sure the bees have enough to eat. We mixed B-Pro (a pollen substitute) in the center of the plastic frames. Then filled the rest with a thick sugar and water mixture.

Each hive got two of these plastic frames in the medium size deep which we placed them on the outer edges.

Next was the quilt boards. Bees biggest threat in the winter is not the cold but moisture that builds up in the hive. They have 1/2 inch metal screening on the bottom (Sorry I didn’t get a photo). The boxes were then filled with cedar shavings to absorb moisture. In the center is a small piece of pvc to create a chimney for moisture to escape the sides. On top of the chimney piece is foam insulation. The insulation has a hole to hold the pvc piece and some of the center carved out for ventilation.

Finally we stapled on tar paper to help with blocking the winter winds and put a piece of wood on top to block snow build up. We then secured it down with a strap and put a cinder block on top.

Here’s to hoping we make it though our first winter ❄️ 🐝 Bee well!

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