Bee calendar: November through January

numbers collage imageIn temperate North America, the bee colony is at its smallest in late November and December. If stores are still light you can feed a 2:1 syrup as long as nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees. Below this temperature, the bees are not able to convert syrup to stored honey.

If you are worried the bees might starve in the winter, feeding can be accomplished in many ways such as fondant or sugar candy; with goop made by stirring just enough water to hold the sugar granules together; just a bag of dry sugar with some slits cut on top of the bag. Placing the sugar varies from on top of the inner cover to on top of the brood box. A 2” spacer can be placed on top of the last box before the inner cover to make space for the fondant or sugar cakes.

Last month several methods for ventilation were suggested. In addition to those mentioned you can also create a tiny space between the top box and the inner cover. Simply glue four small pieces of wood (like pieces of a Popsicle stick) to the four corners of the inner cover’s flat side. This gives 1/16 inch of ventilation between the top of the upper hive body and the inner cover. Make sure that the outer cover is put on the hive in a balanced way, with an equal amount of space on all sides to ensure a good airflow that will keep the colony dry.

With these final tasks completed do not disturb the hives through January. Read technical books and journals. Make plans for the coming year: medication, re- queening, equipment purchases, and migrations. Buy, build, and repair woodenware and equipment. Buy the bottles and packaging you will need for selling your honey and wax. Render old combs into clean wax.

Bee Facts:

Bees eat about 8 pounds of honey to produce 1 pound of beeswax.

Bees generate heat in the winter cluster equivalent to a continuously used 20-watt light bulb to maintain the brood nest temperatures.