Fall is perhaps the most important time of the beekeeping year. While the honey flows rapidly in spring, and swarm season can overwhelm you as it did us this year, there is plenty of time for the bees to react and adjust to changes in the spring and summer. Hives split, recombine, and may be requeened. Time heals many ills. By Sept 1 the luxury of time is against you, and the oncoming winter necessitates preparations. For all of our hives, we try to do four key things in the fall.
And our yard with sugar syrup feeders in place. We feed every hive to prevent robbing. The hives that need less food will take less food but this way they are not tempted to steal from the hives that need the sugar.
(3)Treat for Mites.
You may find as many opinions about mite treatments as you will beekeepers. We treat all our hives for mites every fall. We do not do a mite count because (a) we don’t have that much time and are lazy and (b) at pretty much any mite level they need to be treated. If for some reason a hive miraculously doesn’t have mites the mite treatment won’t hurt it. I equate fall mite treatment to a flu shot. If you know you are at high risk for getting the flu, (as bees are for mites) wouldn’t you want a flu shot? We are treating with ApiLifeVar this year which is a mixture of thymol, menthol, and eucalyptus. I’ve used other thymol based products in the past and been quite happy with them. We went with ApiLifeVar because it can be broken into a variety of sizes easily and so can be used to treat both nuts and full hives. I didn’t get any photos of the initial mite treatment – the bees don’t like the smell (although I do) so I was working as quickly as possible. Here they are hanging out outside where it doesn’t smell as much:
(4) physical preparations
Physical preparations consist of wrapping the hives in tar paper and putting on insulating inner covers to absorb moisture (contrary to the name, moisture control is more important than actual heat retention). Finally we will strap the hives down. After the bear incident I think I will leave all our hives strapped all the time -I’m pretty sure that’s what saved us! All of this will occur much later in the fall – probably closer to November.
Here’s our yard this morning, with feeder buckets and mite treatment in place (note two of the hives have an extra deep super covering the feed bucket, while one is exposed because I didn’t have any more extra boxes). Also on the “do as I say, not as I do front” don’t keep a messy bee yard like me. There’s a great trick to getting bees off things – just leave them out until night and the bees will go back inside. This is only a good trick if you then *actually go bring the item in at 10pm* otherwise you get a messy bee yard like us!