Six degrees this morning as I type this. Cozy inside though as we have had the stove going all night long and everything outside is prepared for winter weather, but the dog did give me a dirty look when I let him outside this morning, as if to imply it was my fault his water dish was frozen solid. If you get weather like this be sure to leave faucets dripping and open up the cabinet doors under sinks for additional warm air circulation.
I lost another beehive this last week. Its all part and parcel with beekeeping though I must say you never get used to losing what feels like a friend. All summer you watch them work so hard, swarming to your garden, your fruit trees and raspberry patch and then suddenly they are gone. Both hives had plenty of stores that would have seen them through the winter, so what was the issue? It appears to be mites. Both hives that went down are second year hives – hives that have had time for a mite load to build up. Then in the fall when the bees are pulling down their numbers for winter, say from 60,000 to 10,000, a mite load that the 60,000 could live with now weighs down on 10,000 bees. The remaining bees are faced with 6 times the mite load and it leads to a colony collapse.
The four remaining hives are all first year hives. Its no guarantee they will make it but first year hives generally have a better chance because the mite load has not yet built up as great in them. So whats a Beek to do? I’ve doing more research on that and one of the things to do is to split your hives in the spring. The split breaks the mite cycle and also gives you more hives. Basically, instead of allowing the hives to get to be two years old you split them into new hives.
I will be talking about this more in the spring time when I go through the process of splitting the hives. For now, keep warm and keep your pipes unfrozen.