Winter Chores

I checked the hives the last time it was warm. The ones that died aren’t doing so well, but the ones that survived look good so far. Yesterday, I went out and found

this section of tree fell on the electric fence, but luckily didn't land on any hives

a tree lying across the electric fence. It was small enough that I was able to get it all inside the fence for now, and luckily it fell between hives and not on them. So, in the coming week, if we have a couple of warm days, I can take care of that and clean out the hives that died. It’s good to separate the boxes and carefully pull the frames to shake out the dead bees. The reason I say carefully, is that it’s still cold outside and the wax is brittle and too easy to break. 

I usually break the hive right down to the bottom board, get it cleaned out and set things back together. Of course, you want to try to determine why it died. As long as it isn’t diseased, I look on the bright side. I have the resource of drawn out frames, and sometimes some left over honey or pollen. It’s important to be sure there is still ventilation and you have a mouse guard still on. Otherwise, an empty beehive is too inviting for mice to pass up.

Other things to do: Check on equipment and see if anything is needed. I try to do that in the fall and buy or make what I need. One reason is the big rush in the spring. I was talking to Betterbee the other day and asked about their stock. They were out of Deep hive bodies and honey supers. When the boom in beekeeping started about 5 or so years ago, it was hard to find equipment available anywhere. Suppliers were overwhelmed with orders. You would think that by now they would have their system down, but apparently not.

newly built and painted screened bottom boards

Other than hive bodies, supers, and frames, I pretty much build all of my own stuff. Most of it is easy to make once you get going. You can make  little jigs and fixtures for repetitious cuts and for assembling parts to make the work go faster.

The other thing I need to start is frame building. That might happen this week, if I can finish getting my tax stuff together.  There’s always something to do. 

 

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About Beekeeping in the Berkshires

Here at Berkshire Farms Apiary we've been keeping bees and making honey since 2005, with hives in most of the surrounding towns. We also make pure beeswax candles, lip balm, and hand salve, as well as give presentations. As secretary of the Northern Berkshire Beekeepers Association, I am very active in the local beekeeping community.
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