This month’s Ealing Beekeepers newsletter from Andy Pedley contained some helpful wintering advice which I hope he won’t mind me putting up here, mostly so I can find it again next year:
It’s the end of the season … hopefully colonies are all prepared for the winter; well fed, treated against varroa, in wind and weathertight hives … mouseguards essential, woodpecker mesh desirable. Insulation on top … well, I like to do that! ventilation … no need for matches under the crownboard since open mesh floors came along. Well, thats what I think.
Weather’s on the change … cold & wind predicted (could we have some rain too please?); time now to leave the hives alone, except for an Oxalic Acid Drizzle in December, a belt and braces approach to varroa treatment – has to be when the colony is broodless (the Oxalic will only work if it contacts the mites) and must not be retreated (as the oxalic is toxic to the bees too, they will sustain a single treatment each year but no more.
One colony at the apiary has been found to have high varroa drop, despite apiguard treatment having been applied. Possibly an untreated colony somewhere has absconded, invaded and brought with them their mite burden.
John C. reported a bad tempered swarm a few weeks ago; the temper suggests that they were hungry, so it may well have been a starvation swarm from a colony that had not been able to rebuild its stores after being harvested.
Andy Pedley, October 2011