Follow our progress running the nursery, watching wild bees, keeping honey bees and creating our own bee-haven in south Oxfordshire

Checking the bees are ready for winter

This will be our second winter so we feel a little less anxious about saying goodbye to the bees for winter than I remember feeling last year.  We have gone through the checklist:

  • end August - removed any honey and gave them back the combs to clean up (placing them above the crown board)
  • early September - put 2 units of Apiguard into each hive using an eke above the brood box
  • end September feed with lots of sugar syrop

I remember last year finding it very difficult to know how much sugar syrop but this year BBKA news helpfully published carefull guidelines in their 'notes for beginners'. You need to aim for them to have about 40lbs/18kgs for honey each. This is equivalent to just over a completely full super or a half full brood box plus some extra in a super.

We are getting better at judging how full a super is by lifting it so we think that 2 of our 3 hives now have enough and the smaller one that we merged late in the season will need some extra fondant.

I also feel quite proud of myself for having found a half day to sort through the bee-shed and deal with the old combs and pack everything away for winter so the moths dont get at it.  I found some comb with solid honey in from last winter that we had kept with the idea of feeding it back to them as winter stores. It must not have been stored right as it had fermented; phewee!! really stinks. Lesson learnt - if you are going to store any honey it must be completely air-tight.

Today, we hope it will be nice enough for the final check. It still seems wierd to visit the hives every week through the season and then suddenly stop. Im not sure I will even get used to the slight feeling of loss.  But on the upside, we are so busy that a few extra hours will be very handy.