Mid-July: Preparing hives for winter. 2012 Honey harvest written off.
With it still continuing to rain and reports of no let up this week, I have decided to write off the 2012 honey harvest. This week I will start preparing all the hives for winter. It is too early to treat with apiguard for varroa, but I will place crown boards below the supers. Placing the crown board below the supers with a small hole in the feeder holes open, will make the bees think the minimal amount of honey stored above is not theirs. They will theorically rob it and take it down into the one and half brood boxes. I will let them move the honey over a week then remove all the supers and store these for winter. This will leave each hive as brood boxes only, enabling them to fill with winter stores. If August and September does come good they will continue to fill with honey, thus filling each hive without me having to feed them with sugar syrup this year.
Come the 10th August I will start the Apiguard treatment for a month and with the late flowering ivy, the hives will be full of feed by mid -September as numbers start to diminish. I can keep checking for winter stocks and if conditions don’t enable the bees to fill with natural honey I can top them up with sugar syrup.
This has been a dreadful year for beekeepers in the UK and very discouraging for novices who started out this year. Keep your chin up, as 2013 hopefully will be better. Though no honey for us this year, it is very important to manage your hives into winter and through til spring. Hopefully then you will have strong colonies in spring which will pay dividends then.
My mood was improved this morning as I woke up to sunshine, then heard on BBC that jet stream is slowly moving north and forecast is for better weather next week. I have the bee inspector coming next week also, so will seek his advise. If weather does improve, this will give the bees 3 weeks, before I start my varroa treatment, to put some honey into supers. They might put some in, but feel I will still leave this honey for them to get through winter.