Winter is Coming

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.

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4 Comments

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4 responses to “Winter is Coming

  1. Mil

    I was taught by a beekeeper named Serge Labesque and he advocated using hive top feeders as an insulation and a means to catch condensation. We’ve never had mold in our hives when we open up the hives in spring.

    To the bees!!!

  2. So, I’m a budding bee keeper. We have houses almost built, I took a class through a local honey-making company and was advised to order bees through Beeweaver. I’ve emailed them a couple of times with no response (and they have no working phone number). I’m just insecure enough with this new enterprise to need a little hand-holding and advice. I’m in Austin: do I order 2 queens and two hives? Please advise if you can.

    • I’m surprised BeeWeaver has not responded. I’ve always had good luck working with them. That being said, if you are just starting out, you’ll need to either order a package of bees which contains 3 lbs of bees and a queen (http://www.beeweaver.com/BeeWeaver-Package-Bees-2012.html) or buy a nuc (http://www.beeweaver.com/BeeWeaver-Nucs-2012.html) which contains 4 frames of bees and a queen.

      With the package, you just dump the bees in your hive and install the queen. They have to build up wax comb from scatch. A nuc comes with 4 frames that have already have drawn out comb and some brood which gives your hive a jump start. They are more expensive though and depending on the hive you have, the frames might not be the right size. Typically, nucs come with 4 deep frames but some apiaries will provide medium frames if asked.

      Hope that helps and let me know if you have any further questions. The Austin Urban Beekeeping group also has a meeting on January 14th on Beekeeping 101 (http://www.meetup.com/Austin-Urban-Beekeeping/events/43390782/).

  3. Thanks for the advice. I’ll need to decide whether I want the package or nuc. Decisions, decisions.

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