October ’23 in the Apiary

The leaves are changing color.  Tomatoes and the garden are giving in to fall. Bees are putting up with daily changes of sunny and rainy weather. Have you prepared the Queen and her girls for the next 6 months?

By now you should have treated for mites. So now what? Look in all the boxes and make sure there is food in every box. If the bottom box is all resources, then put it on top. When the daytime temps are 55 and below, then feed dry sugar and winter pollen patties. I like to put the sugar on top of the inner cover. Some Beeks put it on top of newspaper on top of the frames. I got tired of the sugar falling down in the boxes and winding up on the bottom, so I changed to the inner cover and the bees will find it. You may need to use a shim on top of the inner cover to be able to give them a larger supply of dry sugar. Tape up the entrance of the shim.  Remove robbing screens and replace them with entrance reducers, so you are able to scrape out the dead bees that fall over winter. If they haven’t already been kicked out, the drones will be in a short while. They are not mouths to feed and therefore, the precious food supply goes farther. Make sure to include a top entrance so there is ventilation inside. You may want to use moisture quilts or moisture boards. I have 2 moisture boards per hive. One on and one to replace when the first one is damp. If your bees are in an unprotected area with wind or your bees live in a convergence zone, it is a good idea to wrap them. You can buy wraps at Mann Lake Ltd or use 6 mil plastic held down by bungee cords. One year I skipped wrapping (I’m in a convergence zone) and I lost 23 hives. Water wicked in between the boxes where the bees had not finished propolizing and the dampness killed them quickly. Soon they were covered in mold! Remember the bees can withstand cold, but wet kills.

Use your sticky board during the winter to see what is going on up above. You can see debris like chewed wax where the bees have uncapped honey. If you see small rectangular black piles, this is wax moth poop. A healthy hive can take care of the wax moth. Did you know that they are really not wax moths, but pollen moths? The moth lays her eggs in pollen, so the larvae have food. The moths travel diagonally along the comb leaving feces and webbing. If you see poop on the bottom board the moth is active directly above there in one of the boxes.

NOTE:  I have been writing this column for 3 years now, so look back at the previous years to find even more hints.

Review the notes in your bee log. Bee sure to not make the same mistakes again. Buy a new bee book and learn more about this wonderful hobby. Make sure to attend meetings (the PSBA calendar has the zoom information) and more and more people are attending in person. Meet your community. Come at 6:30pm for the beginner lesson. Tracy does a great job giving you hints about the things you should be doing.

Elections are coming up in November! Do you love your bee club? Think about supporting it by becoming a board member or officer. All positions are for one year, and if you are interested, starting as a board member is a great way to begin. If you think you might want to contribute to PSBA, send an email to myself or our President Dawn Beck (dbeck@pugetsoundbees.org).

If you are thinking of starting beekeeping, you don’t have to be a member to visit our meetings. Come see what we are all about. Find your neighborhood Captain on the website and send them an email. Get a mentor to advise you.

NOTE TO NEWBEES:  When I moved from CA back to WA I decided to only use medium boxes. It means they are interchangeable, which is a plus, but the real difference was the weight! A deep box is often 100 pounds with bees and honey. A medium is only 40-50 pounds. Save your back and start with mediums not deeps.