Getting ready for Winter

We didn’t get to see the Bees last week. It was either raining or muggy or both, or we couldn’t get out. So this Sunday evening was the first visit for 2 weeks. And all was well.

Queen Cell

This is the best of a bunch of not very good photos of what I think (please comment if you know better) may well have been the cell my new Queen came out of. Unfortunately I didn’t realise until I got home that I’d been focusing through the hole to the fence beam on the other side. It’s an interesting shot though – Queen cells tend to be vertical, where normal cells are near horizontal (slightly sloped up so stuff doesn’t fall out) and in frames, it can be hard to place them. So here they’ve cleared out a hole in the comb and created a Queen cell down into that. I’d found some practice cells elsewhere, never seeming to have anything in them, but this is the biggest and most obvious of them in the Brood Chamber.

And she’s been quite busy of late, laying to ready the hive for the Winter. The outer frames either side of the brood box are all nearly solid with food stores – mostly honey. In the centre there’s what looks like slices of a rugby ball of brood laying:


Another slightly blurry shot, sorry. We saw new eggs and still uncapped larvae, but lots of capped. She should be shutting up shop soon, though – this lot needs to last out the winter. And the outer sections of all the frames, and most of the outer frames, need to be filled with food to last the winter.

So we put the feeder back on, and poured another load of sugar water in, and will continue to do so for a few weeks. I then have some solid bee food to give them – sugar and pollen mixed. I’ll leave that up there for them over the winter, too. We also took the empty Apiguard container out of the Super. That’s done its job well, I think.

And finally, we put in an entrance restrictor. This leaves a lower top to the slot at the front, and helps them defend against wasps, and keeps mice out. Mice will actually take up winter residence in a hive if they can. In the next few weeks I’ll also need to go equipped with tools and the remaining chicken wire from building our run. The next threat to the hive is woodpeckers, and we need to build a protective case around the hive to stop them digging in and taking bees. I’ve seen examples of holed wooden hive boxes, and apparently the plastic ones survive no better.

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