Winter is the most trying time for bees and their keepers. Last year, Virginia lost 45.6% of its beehives which the state attributes mostly to winter loss. I will expand more on this in the future.
For now, I want to share this frame. While it is a work in progress by the bees, it is just about perfect in terms of winter preparation.
Why is it so perfect?
- The brood where the main cluster of bees is expected to hang out all winter is toward the bottom of the frame
- The bees are moving honey and pollen, their sole source of carbohydrates and protein, respectively, into the cells at the top of the frame
Bees cluster to stay warm in the winter and the entire cluster moves through the hive consuming resources through the winter. Winter loss is usually due to the the bees not having a food source within the cluster as it moves through the hive. Commonly, a colony will be found dead with full frames of honey left untouched but since the honey was not within the proximity of the cluster the bees did not consume it.
Thus in the frame above, the cluster of bees working in the brood area will have access to nourishment on that same frame.
Only a few things are within the beekeeper’s power to help the bees through the winter so he or she can only do so much before they must leave it in the hands (or mandibles?) of the hive. However I can record the activities and progress of my hives in order to learn and do better the following years.
Next spring will be proof if my management is successful, and if not, at least I have recorded data to help me be more successful in the next season.