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December 2018 Beekeeping Notes

Hardin County Kentucky Beekeepers Association

The weather has turned to winter rather early this year—at least in comparison to the last couple of years. The bees are now clustered up during these very cold days and nights and will fly a little on days when the temperatures reach into the 40’s and above. Avoid opening the beehives unless you suspect something is wrong and then only on a sunny day when the bees are flying. There are four things that cause the death of beehives in the winter:

  1. Very weak hives and weak queens: The best remedy for weak queens was to have re-queened in the fall and for weak hives was to have combined them with stronger hives in September/October timer frame. But don’t give up on a weak hive this time of year—it may still make it through the winter. Keep the supplemental feeding available for them. Bees are very resilient.
  2. Moisture in the hive: Bees will died from cold moisture or even freeze because of too much moisture in the hive. This is due to a lack of adequate ventilation. There needs to be a reasonable size bottom entrance opening around two inches or so and many beekeepers provide an upper entrances with a ½ to 5/8 inch hole in the top front center. There are other options for moisture control discussed in many references.
  3. Starvation: Starvation is due to a lack of adequate stored honey and pollen in the hive or the hive clustering in one location and not moving to an area with food. Supplemental feeding with candy boards, winter patties and etc. can help avoid die outs due to starvation.
  4. Varroa mites and related viruses: It has pretty much become accepted practice to treat for Varroa Mites in September and then again shortly after Thanksgiving. The recommended late treatment option is with Oxalic Acid; because, the queens have most likely stopped laying and there is little to no brood and the temperatures in late November and December are not conducive for the use of other treatments.
  5. Lastly, it is advisable to provide some type of wind break for the beehives if one does not exist. Some wrap the back and sides of hives with roofing paper, some actually put up some type of windbreak fence and some relocate their hives for winter so as to provide a place safer from the cold winter winds—caution if moving/relocating—be sure you fully understand the process in order to be successful.

Now is the time to make sure that your beekeeping equipment is properly stored for winter and to start working on any repairs needed to your beekeeping equipment. Merry Christmas

NOTICE – Place Winter Feed Nearest Bee Cluster

Hardin County Beekeepers AssociationHardin County Beekeepers Association

ALERT NOTICE: November 20, 2018

This is an "Awareness Notice": Many of you have bees and the attached photos are of a hive of mine that just died out due to starvation even though I had provided them with sugar fondant cake. The bees apparently had moved up and clustered in the front right corner of the top brood box prior to the ice storm. There was little to no stored honey/pollen in that area. The sugar fondant cake had been placed toward the center several days prior to the ice storm.  When I opened the hive on this past Sunday afternoon, I found that the hive had died out. There was no indication that the bees had made any effort to consume any of the newly placed sugar fondant. This in its self was very concerning since they had completely consumed another sugar fondant cake earlier prior to my placing this last one on the hive. I have shared this with the Tammy Potter and she said that she had received another similar report. This is very early for something like this to happen in the Fall to Winter time period.

Lesson to me and all---if the stored honey/pollen or supplemental is not directly over and/or easily and readily accessible, the bees may not move over or up to it.  This is why we recommend making sure that there are honey/pollen frames on both sides of the area that the bees cluster. If they don’t have frames of stored honey/pollen, then the supplement needs to be very close and directly over the bees.

Another note: Especially with weak or hives with smaller populations, the bees tend to move up and cluster toward the warmest area or side of the hive where the sun shines on the hive the most. In my case the right front portion of the hive.

Recommendation: The next time the weather is in the 40’s or so and sunny, take a look inside your hives.

October 2018 Meeting Agenda

Hardin County Kentucky Beekeepers AssociationOctober 2018 Meeting Agenda


Date: October 20, 2018
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Location: Hardin County Extension Office


Welcome to both members and guests.

NO Guest Speaker

Minutes from last meeting by the Secretary.

  • The minutes were emailed and were posted to our website.

Number in attendance last meeting: 24

Financial Report presented by the Treasurer: As of last meeting the account balance was $1,278.00.

Old Business:

  • Constitution and By-Laws
  • State Fair KSBA Honey Booth---this year’s data is not available yet.
  • Beekeeping School Report- Update on Speakers—Update on Food Truck.
  • Clarkson Honey Fest
  • Beekeeping Mentoring Program – last hands on session was this past Saturday—final session is Saturday October 20th at the Extension Office. Will be conducting the program again next year.

New Business:

  • HCBA annual dues.
  • Fees for March 30th beekeeping school?
  • Dates for association meeting in 2019?
  • Suggestions on speakers and/or topics for our meetings next year?
  • Election of Officers will be at our November 15th meeting.
  • Glendale Days, October 20th
  • KSBA Fall Conference and School at the Bullitt Central High School November 3rd.
  • Pot Luck for next meeting in November????

Open Discussion: Any and all topics.

Beekeeping Notes: Beekeeping Notes for October: The weather is going to be changing significantly cooler and everyone needs to consider placing debris boards on their screened bottom boards when the nightly temperatures start to drop below the mid 30’s. You can still conduct inspections when the temperatures are in the upper 50’s on a nice sunny days with little to no wind blowing. Entrance reducers should be on by now as well as mouse guards if necessary. The bees will move up and cluster in the top brood box when the temperatures drop like that. In October the queen slows down laying eggs and all the Drones are expelled from the hives. It is important to start feeding hives 2:1 sugar syrup with Honey B Healthy for the bees to build up honey reserves for winter. There are varying opinions on how much honey/pollen needs to be on each hive for winter-- but 6 to 8 deep frames is a good start. BUT it is recommended that supplemental feeding be provided during winter regardless. Bees do not always move toward the frames of stored honey during a cold winter and therefore if the food source is not just above or next to them, they will die out due to starvation. Also, if the winter is very mild, the bees will consume all the stores rather quickly and be without a food source going into late January and February. Conduct the last comprehensive hive inspections. Combine any weak hives with stronger ones. Fall into Winter preparation is underway with the goal of having hives ready for winter with at least 1 full deep hive box (10 frames) of healthy bees; 60 lbs. of honey and pollen; plus a good laying queen with considerable brood in the hive. It is also important to check for Varroa Mites and treat early before the cold weather arrives. Reference the Honey Bee Health Coalition website and review the various treatments and time of year treatment charts verse mite count. If the weather remains warm into and through October, then robbing will be a problem that will need to be watched for.

Meeting Adjournment: