Hive Winterization 2021

With colder weather on its way, the Foragers needed to prepare the club hive for winter. The last time we did an inspection, we also did a varroa mite check and found our count was six mites. This time we needed to recheck the mite count, do a treatment depending on the count, check the honey stores, and put our new top feeder on the hive.

We started the process by trying to locate the queen. It is very important to make sure you have located her and separated her from the hive before doing the mite check. We use the sugar roll method to do the check, and in this process, you have to get a 1/2 cup of bees and roll them around in a jar with some confectioner’s sugar. If you accidentally get the queen in the jar, the vigorous shaking can damage the eggs in her abdomen, which is not good for the hive.

During our look for the queen, we spotted some bald brood, which is what happens when the honey bees uncap the cells in which the larvae are in. This can be a sign of varroa mite infection since honey bees will uncap the cell and remove the larvae if they detect varroa mites in the cell. The picture below shows the bald brood circled in red.

For the second time during an inspection, the queen eluded us and we had to go back a second time through one box to find her. We did find her in the upper box and put her in a queen clip for safekeeping. After securing her, we used club members Sarah and Paul’s varroa mite jar we made for a previous project to collect the bees.

After collecting the bees in the jar, we put confectioner’s sugar in the top, rolled the bees around in the sugar, and allowed several minutes to pass. Then we shook the jar into a lid with water. When doing this, the varroa mites and sugar will fall out of the jar. The water dissolves the sugar, so you can see the mites.

Our count was 48 mites after doing two sugar shakes, which you are supposed to divide by 3 to get the final mite count. Our count was 16, which indicates a need for a treatment. Because we had gone through the entire hive, it was best to wait until the next day to treat when they were calmer. Once this was done, we put the queen back in the hive, which is seen in the video below. She moves out of the clip fast, but you can see her on top of the clip with a white dot before she goes back in the hive.

Posted in Hive Inspection, Honey Bee Education, Life Skills.

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