Harvesting Honey

We want you to succeed so here are some easy things to follow when harvesting your honey.

  1. Compressing your brood nest to your bottom chamber, and back filling vacant spaces with honey-pollen is going to help you ensure you don’t over harvest. You should never leave frames of undrawn frames or foundation.
  2. Honey harvest moisture is important as you don’t want to take honey with a high water content. This will cause fermentation. I recommend that you harvest a total of 60% capped honey, or use a refractometer to ensure you are below 18%.
  3. Keep it clean! Make sure that you have clean hands, tools and gloves. If you are out beekeeping this time of year, you need to make sure you have a water bucket with a splash of bleach to keep it clean.

Robbing and Pests

Easy to make wasp catcher from a 2L soda container. These can be made with smaller plastic bottles as well. But, instead of using “something sweet”, target predacious insects by using tuna water, or pieces of raw meat.

Sampling for Mites

Knowing what your mite load before the winter comes keeps the roulette out of winter survival.

This is an excellent video made by the Manitoba Beekeepers Association on HOW TO check for mites! You need to know where you are at to ensure you bees are as healthy as possible.

image: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CSIRO_ScienceImage_7306_A_European_honey_bee_prepupa_with_varroa_mites.jpg

Alternative Use for Oxalic Acid

Varroa mite treatments follow trends. First, everyone was using Checkmite (which now the mites are resistant to now), then Apivar and Apistan. All of these are synthetic miticides that not only can cause resistance in varroa populations from over use, poor use, or just time. And now the trend of using Oxalic acid sublimation. The purchase of an expensive sublimation wand, carrying a battery to the yard, and smoking the bees inside their colony with evaporated oxalic. This method is the superior option to all, as its applications have the greatest efficacy with the lowest concentrations of acid. But if costs or tools are restricting your applications, think Dribbling or Trickling.

I encourage you to consider oxalic dribbling. Its efficacy at a 2.25g application is good, and although it isn’t as soft on the bees as sublimation, it is an affordable and effective way to knock varroa back.

Feeding and Winter

As we set to fall off the growth curve of the beekeeping season, anticipate a quick end to brood nest size, a large and ageing foraging population (leading to protective and defensive behaviors to your once friendly bees) and a stop to nectar storage.

Feeding and making sure your colonies are strong in feed and weight are imperative to ensure that the colony can thermoregulate, manage moisture, and access food resources throughout the long 6-8month winter! So here are some tips and tricks.

Winter Weights

These weights include the equipment and wooden ware of the hive.

Feeding Colonies

“Sugar syrup can be made at a concentration of 2:1 (2 parts sugar to 1 part water, by weight) or 1:1 (equal parts sugar and water, by weight). The thinner, 1:1 sugar syrup is generally used in early spring to feed colonies that are low on reserves and are in danger of starving. Spring feeding can also be used to stimulate brood production, pollen foraging and colony growth. The thicker, 2:1 sugar syrup is used in the fall to provide bees with enough stores to survive the winter. Since bees will need to process and ripen syrup before it can be stored, feeding them 2:1 syrup means they have less work to do. Each colony should be fed 15 L of 2:1 sugar syrup in the fall to prepare them for winter. Feeding should begin as soon as supers are removed and should be completed before the temperature gets below 10°C as bees will stop taking down sugar syrup once it gets too cold.”

*taken from page 45, Canadian Best Management Practices for Honey Bee Health

Winter Bees and Pollen

Winter bees are very different than summer bees. This is because of the metabolism of their fat bodies that are accumulated from a protein deficient diet (creating more vitellogenin fats) cause for hormone production that essential stops the bees from transitioning out of the nurse bee stage. This not only lengthens their lives, but decreases the foraging behavior of the colony. So, the stronger and healthier the bees in the Fall, the stronger and healthier the winter bee population. This all increases your chances of winter survival.

Because the diet of winter bees is pollen deficient, you do not need to feed your honey bees pollen substitutes or supplements in the Fall.