Sunday night saw our first dip near freezing since last winter. While Central Texas temperatures can fluctuate greatly in December from freezing to high in the 70’s, Austin beekeepers should be making their final preparations for the upcoming winter months.
I’d recommend having 4-5 medium supers on your hive to maximize your chances for a successful over-wintering with two of those mostly being honey stores. It is not too late to get some last minute feeding in if you feel the hive does not have enough socked away.
Ventilation is also extremely important. As bees warm the hive, condensation can form on the inner cover and then drip down cold water back into the hive. Flipping over the standard inner cover or propping open the cover with some popsicle sticks allows the warmer humid air to escape. It also allows the girls to add or remove propolis as they see fit to regulate the temperature.
I’ve never been one to wrap my hives for winter. It just doesn’t get that cold for that long here in Austin, and if my bees can’t survive a Texas winter without a wrapped hive, they don’t need to be part of the genetic pool.
That’s about it. Don’t forget to order new equipment and bees if you are starting new hives next year, and enjoy the next few months off before the Spring craziness starts.
This little bee spent over ten minutes trying to work her way into this antique rose to get to the delicious center.
This article from Food Safety News have been making the rounds over the past few days, and has some concerning information for folks buying honey. Nearly 75% of honey sold in stores have been heated and filtered to a point where all the pollen has been removed. In fact, if the bottle says it has been ultra-filtered, the USDA doesn’t even consider it to be honey anymore.
Pollen in honey is like a human fingerprint. It allows analysis to determine the region where the honey was produced which is an important tool used to help stop the import of foreign honey produced using questionable practices.
So make friends with your friendly neighborhood beekeeper or buy locally produced honey at a farmer’s market. What you’ll be tasting is a honey unique to your city or town.
Knives’ hive has really been packing it away for winter. She now has two 8-frame supers full of the stuff and has started working on the third.
I had a really hard time getting the top most super off during this morning’s inspection. Not only does it weigh 50+ pounds, but the girls had also built a lot of comb filled with honey in between the two honey supers.
After a visit to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center last weekend, I thought I would collect as many photos as I could of bees collecting nectar and pollen.
Antique roses are a great source of pollen. Here is a Perle D’Or Rose:
This is a Louis Phillipe antique rose with a hoverfly:
Rock Rose isn’t a true rose, but it is in full bloom right now.
Prostrate Rosemary grows like a weed in Austin, and has very small blue blooms:
Fall Aster, crazily enough, blooms in the fall and the bees love it:
Kidney Wood is a native tree and the blooms actually smell like honey. I can see why the bees love it.
Even the hoverflies are getting in on the action.
The great thing about Central Texas is the prolific number of trees and flowers that bloom in the fall. Even after a terrible summer of drought, the number of fall blooms available gives the bees a chance to catch up and get ready for the winter.