The weather forecast here in the South of the UK is indicating its going to get a lot colder this week at the end of October, so winter is definitely on its way after a relatively warm September and October.
We went to the apiary on Saturday afternoon to finish preparing the hives for winter. We removed the last of the Varroa mite treatments and “hefted” all the hives to ensure they felt heavy enough and full of stores. Luckily they all were and a quick check of the brood frames showed how the Queens had now stopped laying and the frames were instead full of stored honey.
The final thing before we left the bees for winter was to “flip” the hives and place the super under the brood box before putting the hive back together.
On the left is the hive before we flipped it with the super in its normal position on top of the larger brood box and on the right is the hive as we left it until next spring. Generally speaking the colony starts to form a tight cluster at about 10C to keep warm and usually starts at the bottom of the hive, consuming stores as they move upwards.
These polystyrene hives are much warmer for the bees which means they consume less stores and tend to come out of the winter much stronger with the Queens starting to lay eggs for the next generation of workers as early as mid February. This time of year is normally way too cold for us to inspect the bees and so quite often the new brood bees end up being laid in the super which is not helpful. So by flipping the hive in this way, we can leave the colony to migrate up to the top of the hive into the brood chamber where the Queen can lay eggs and raise the new brood without us disturbing them early in the year. It’s also helpful to have the hive this way when we do the winter Varroa treatment in early January…
Flipping hives for Winter... by simon