Overwinter Config

~ Wandering Creek Acres ~

Before you start your hive autopsies, you should first take some time to list how you prepared your hives in the fall for winter.  After each autopsy you can review that configuration and determine how you can make it better for the following year.

Here are my 8 hives that entered the new year alive.

Each was prepared for winter as follows:

Excel - winter config

As an experiment (ok, I’m an engineer and engineers love experiments), I overwintered 3 Nucs to see if I would have greater success in overwintering smaller colonies.

The five hives marked in red died before we reached April; 3/5ths of the 10-frame hives and 2/3rds of the Nucs. (60% and 67%, respectively). So not much of a difference.

Now that I have listed how each hive was winterized, I can easily review the autopsy results as I perform each autopsy and determine how I can improve on my overwintering plan for the coming winter.

As you can see from my overwintering plan for this last year, I do not wrap, how about you?  Do you find that wrapping helps your hives survive the winter?

~ May all your wandering take you to many wonderful places!

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4 thoughts on “Overwinter Config

  1. Mine get no additional insulation to see them through winter and are on open mesh floors. Typically they over-winter on 2 boxes. They survive on ivy honey taken in the autumn (i.e no autumn feeding). Vaporised oxalic acid in December knocks back the mites and a bit of fondant if they feel a bit light in early spring.
    I like your analytical approach, though I wonder whether you would be better off with locally raised mongrel bees rather than the bought in thoroughbreds?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m wondering if I’m vaporizing oxalic acid too soon, I normally do it directly after removing the honey in mid-Aug (treating for 3 weekends straight). I agree with the locally raised mongrel bees. The 3 hives I started with last year were… 2 Nucs that were supposedly Illinois raised queens and an overwintered Italian hive. We had quite a mild winter here and I think the bees were too active to survive. I like your idea of no autumn feeding, I’m thinking of leaving them more of their own honey and see how that works out this coming winter.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Research at the Laboratory of Apiculture & Social Insects (LASI) at the University of Sussex found best time to use OA is a week before the winter solstice because sealed brood is at a minimum so most mites are phoretic. Removing any sealed brood the day before vaporisation gives a 95% kill rate. Now this under UK climatic conditions, but I imagine its the same principle in California. Usually a single treatment suffices, but a second dose 10 days after the first (with repeated sealed brood removal) gives almost 100% kill.

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      2. I will check LASI out, thanks! Normally here in northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin the instruction is to treat once you remove honey supers, which is late August. But LASI may be on to something. 🙂 If I had treated again in December I think my bees may have survived.

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