Beekeeping Calendar -Autumn
Autumn beekeeping activitiesThe autumn activities start at the end of August and are divided in three main categories: activities for intensifying the development of bee brood, providing food storages for the winter and preparing the colonies of bees for the winter season.
As the days grow shorter and the weather colder the pollen resources diminish as well. In this period the hive population decreases dramatically. The queen bee lays fewer and fewer eggs and the drones disappear from the hive. This is the period in which the honeybees produce propolis which is used to seal the cracks through which the cold can enter the hive. The honeybees prepare themselves for the cold season and it is the beekeeper's job to help them. Honey stealing is common in this period as well, and therefore it has to be prevented.
In autumn you must make sure once again that the bees are healthy and the queen bees are still powerful enough to perform "their royal duties". Thus, the colonies of bees need to receive medication against parasites and diseases. You have to provide each beekeeping hive with enough food and water to help the bees get over the winter time. All these preparations have to be done in late September. The honeybees can be packed for winter towards the end of October.
What does a beekeeper have to do in autumn?
1.Intensifying the development of bee broodIn autumn the beekeeper has to make sure that his colonies are strong, well fed and in good health. This is not an easy task but has to be done if you do not want to have an empty apiary by spring.
2.Providing young and healthy queen beesCheck the beekeeping hives and make sure they still got a queen bee- the easiest way to do this is to see if there are any eggs in the hive; if you find them, it is obvious that the queen bee is still alive and well. However, pay attention no to confuse the eggs with larva. There is an important difference between them: the eggs show that the queen bee was in the area at most two days ago, while the larva can appear after eight days. Remember that for honeybees eight days is a very long time. Thus, the presence of larva does not guarantee that the colony of bees still has a queen.
It has been established that only a young queen bee can constantly lay eggs. Thus, a queen bee that is older than 3 years has to be replaced during summer. Old queen bees reduce the egg lying when the nectar sources diminish, while young queen bees do not. Moreover, there are fewer chances for a young queen bee to die during winter. However, it is not advisable to replace queen bees in autumn, unless it is really necessary.
3.Provide food for the winterCheck if the honeybees have enough honey for the winter. They need a lot of food (sealed honey) for the cold period of the year. Without food they will perish. Until winter comes, you can give the bees a syrup made of sugar and water ( 2 to 1). When the month of October passes by, it is too cold for the bees to leave their hive and they gather in a cluster and will stay like this until weather is warm again.
4.Unblocking the hivesSometimes, the queen bee stops lying eggs because the honeycombs are filled with honey and pollen. When autumn approaches and there are no longer so many nectar sources, the bee instinctively block the combs by gathering food storages. Therefore, the queen bee no longer has a place where to lay the eggs and the number of free cells is dramatically reduced.
There are certain measures that can be taken in order to avoid this situation. Thus, in the case of horizontal and vertical hives with a storage space, empty honeycombs have to be introduced in the middle of the hive. In the case of multilayered hives, the boxes are switched between them periodically. However, the box containing the food supplies must not be moved from its place.
5.Give bees the necessary medication.
6.Prepare the hive for the winterAir the beekeeping hive properly. In winter time, the temperature in the middle of the hive is quite high. In the absence of proper ventilation, the warm air in the center of the hive, elevates and then meets the cold surface of the box ceiling. Condensation occurs and cold drops fell on the bees located on the edge. This is a huge problem, since the bees will get cold and eventually die.
7. Provide the beekeeping hives with high quality honeycombsThe honeycombs that remain inside the colony of bees must be well-built without any drones or other defects. All the honeycombs that do not correspond to the criteria must be removed immediately.
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