September Field Day
The hives did not look like this today because it was raining! However a good group turned out and I appreciate that. We discussed what to do now and in a couple of weeks and next month on the hives. My advice for now is to wait about two weeks, then assess how much honey is on your hives. If at that point the weather is decent, but the goldenrod is pretty much gone, then flip the inner cover over to the winter position so the bees can access the hive directly. Reduce entrances if you are concerned about robbing at that point, but not before if the fall flow is still on. Do any re-arranging of hive bodies or frames at that point when the weather is warm. Insulating and anything that can be done after it gets cold can wait. If you are putting on solid bottom boards do it now before it gets cold. If you feel there is extra honey on the hives at that point, you may take some for yourself. If there is not enough, leave what they have.
How much is enough honey? The general rule is a full medium super above the brood boxes that is completely full. If your bees don't have that much in two weeks, you have several options: 1. Put honey back on that you have not extracted yet, if you have it. 2. Move full frames from a stronger hive to one with less honey. 3. Feed sugar water.
How to feed sugar water if you must: Mix up a ratio of 2 parts sugar to one part water. You will need to use warm water to get it to dissolve. Use some type of feeder system. I just use a coffee can with hole punched in it, you can contact me to ask details on that, although I have not needed to feed for several years.
Do I recommend candy boards? No. I have not been convinced they really make much difference either way and they are a pain to make. If you feed sugar water any time before it gets to the point where the temp never goes above freezing, which is generally at least December around here, the bees can convert it to honey in the hive. Make sure they have some empty frames to fill if you do feed sugar water.
So, by the end of the month you should have made sure the bees have enough honey for winter and the entrance is reduced or covered with 1/2" hardware cloth for mice. You need to have upper entrance ventilation in place for the winter and have everything done that requires opening the hive at all. Insulation can be put on when it gets a little cooler, and a blanket or absorbent material placed in the top for insulation and absorbing extra moisture should be placed a that time. When all that is done, the hive is ready for winter and I feel should be left just like that without any manipulation at all until spring. I only check from the outside for signs of life through the winter, no opening the hives, no cleaning out the bottom board.
I will report when I do these things to the hives in the experimental apiary. Hopefully the insulation and top blankets can be done on the next field day on October 8, 2016, weather permitting.