For those of you who purchased ‘Easy Bee’ starter hives form me in the spring, you may have noticed that your hive differs from some ‘traditional’ set up as you have a screened inner cover instead of the traditional wooden inner cover with a hole in the middle.
|Screened inner cover|
|Traditional wooden inner cover|
I have found that the screened inner cover really helps with ventilation during the summer but you might be wondering, what do I do with this over the winter? I recommend using a moisture board which fits nicely inside of the top of the screened inner cover.
So what could cause the demise of your bees during the winter? It is either starvation or moisture. And, I have added a third item to this list – diseases from mite infestation.
Mites are a whole topic by themselves. Mites are basically virus machines. They are out-producing the bees in numbers during August. So, this was the ‘critical’ time to address them and curtail the spread of viruses to your young bees that will be expected to live all winter long. These tiny menaces do not have a foolproof method for eradication so develop your plan and stick to it.
2 Sixty pounds of reserve honey stores is the minimum recommendation for our area. A deep frame full of capped stores can weigh anywhere from 6 to 10 pounds. So, that’d be 6 to 10 frames of deep foundation full of capped stores and some say you should plan on having as much as 12 –18 deep frames. If you don’t have this by now, start feeding ASAP as time is running out. Now, we switch to 2:1 syrup – that’s 2 parts sugar to 1 part water. The days are shorter and cooler so the bees do not need the extra moisture to help cool the hive. (See the post about feeding.)
3 As for the moisture, the huddling cluster of overwintering bees produces a water vapor similar to the exhaled breath of air that we produce. The cooler outside air can cause the moisture particles to condense and fall back down on the bees as water drops. This in turn causes them to freeze. So be cognizant of excess water in the hive and provide ventilation all winter. By using a moisture board, it will absorb the moisture instead of allowing it to condense. The screened inner cover therefore becomes a multipurpose tool to be used not only in the summer but also serves a purpose in your winter care.