I winterized the hives on Sunday.
This basically means I built some new roofs and put some insulation under them. The bees use their bodies and movement to keep the hive at about 95 degrees (F) even in the dead of winter by forming a clump with their queen at the center.
Questions include: Will they be able to keep that temp? Will they have enough honey stored away to feed themselves until the first dandelion appears?
I really don’t know either question. I depends on the weather.
I can help by feeding them but that violates my natural mantra but I’ve been feeding Alpha and Beta hives all October trying to beef them up. We’ll see when the first yellow of a dandy appears in March or thereabouts.
Alpha Hive however is dead. At least that’s where I’d lay money. As it cools, you reduce the entrance to the hives. You do this because there are fewer bees to guard the entrance from predators that want all that sweetness inside. When I checked on Alpha yesterday, its entrance was wide open. Maybe a large animal tore at it. Either way, when I looked inside yellow jackets were all over. The hive felt light. The 30 – 50 pounds needed to survive the winter. I don’t think so. This is my first hive and a bit depressing to lose it.
Beta hive – this was a new colony I shook out of a tree in the spring. They seem to be doing ok but it’s a dice roll.
Gamma hive – this is my aggressive colony. When putting on the roof, I banged the hive softly and they were out (even in the cool temps) to see who I was. I let them calm down, reduced the entrance and put on the new roof. I didn’t feed them at all because they seemed bustling with honey in September.
The only thing I might do is put some more solid food in Alpha and Beta hives as a little more insurance. And in this area there are plants offering up nectar still even through mid-December that they could forage for.