The Package And The Swarm Prepare For Winter
Sometime last week I consolidated both of my hives for winter. I reduced them both down to a single deep box, since neither of them had enough frames filled in and in use to warrant two full boxes. The hive on the left, the bees I bought as a package, had 3 deep boxes removed, and they really only managed to fill in 3 of them. There were at least 12 frames that they hadn’t drawn wax out on. After selecting the best frames for them they ended up with 9 in the box they’ll over winter in. One of the honey frames they made they drew out so thickly it took up the space of two frames. I was either going to have to harvest it or let them overwinter with it. They actually drew out three frames like that, but I moved the second frame over into the hive on the right, which was the swarm I caught. The hive on the left has two full frames of orange pollen, and probably 60lbs of honey. I’ll definitely feed them in late winter and early spring. I’m debating making them a quilt box like the ones that go on Warre hives. They would benefit from the insulation and moister wicking properties. And now that I have all the tools I need, making one would be only an hours worth of work. Idk, something to think about.
The right hive weirdly had more honey capped than the left one, but it was all up in the super I had to put on because it was the only box I had at the time. I removed the entire box, and took three frames that were 75% capped out for extraction. The rest I left out across the garden for the bees to clean up and put back into the hives. I managed to squeeze 10 frames into this hive, and when I say squeeze I mean it. The weirdly shaped frame had to be squished against a wall to fit it in, but the bees should reshape it and move the honey a little. This hive had only a little bit of pollen, and egg laying had almost completely stopped. I may feed them sooner than the left hive because they also weighed a little less. With the rains coming back I’m hoping they’ll find a few more flowers to boost honey stores, but we’ll see. Once I’m seriously done with them for the winter I plan on moving the hives right up next together to keep warm.
All in all I removed 3 super frames and a single deep one (the last extra wide frame) for honey collection. I would prefer to have left them in the hives but they wouldn’t fit and it didn’t make sense to have partially empty boxes. I’ve never overwintered with just single deep boxes before but hopefully it will be more successful!