Autumnal beekeeping

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Four pint jars of 2:1 sugar syrup cooling on the kitchen counter. By the time they are at room temperature they will all be as clear as the jar on the right.

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The jars in place, upside down in the feeder over an inner cover that allows the bees to access only the perforated jar lids, not the whole box. I think this particular model of feeder is exclusive to Beez Neez Apiary Supply, where they make them onsite.

Other beekeepers are harvesting honey this time of year. Not me. I don’t think I’m working the girls hard enough. (Actually the problem is my timing. I didn’t put on a honey super at the right time of year.) But I still have seasonal chores. I have removed the entrance feeder that I use during the summer to water the bees (thus keeping them out of the neighbors’ swimming pools) and tapped in an entrance reducer (to prevent both drafts and pests) and I threw another shallow super on top of my hive to house my top feeder.

Something I didn’t learn in class was that many beekeepers use a different kind of sugar syrup for fall and winter feeding of bees. The 1:1 ratio I have been using is preferred for spring and summer feeding to supplement low nectar flows and encourage brood rearing. This time of year I want the girls to be thinking about socking away stores for the winter, not about swelling their ranks with more bodies that have to be gotten through the tough months ahead. So I am going to try the 2:1 (sugar:water) ratio and see if it makes any difference in the spring vigor of my hive. I want them to be very healthy next spring because I plan to requeen and come hell or high water I’m gettin’ me some honey!

— Amanda

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