Claude’s Corner – November 2022

I hope you and your bees are well.

I try to write something each month that is related to the season and that hopefully will help you make timely management decisions.  In November, I don’t write about swarming, queen rearing, splitting hives, etc.   The days are getting shorter, it’s getting colder, the bees are clustering, so what are we to be doing at this time of year?  Also, I want to stress that even though I write about what seems to work for me, I do not claim to be an expert, and there are generally many ways to accomplish the same task.  I am still learning and I make mistakes.  

In November, I generally stop feeding sugar syrup (2 to 1) around the 15th, (Kent Williams, EAS master beekeeper uses Thanksgiving), and start feeding fondant and/or sugar bricks.  I put on a sugar shim or eke for that purpose.  Kent’s sugar cake recipe: 10 pounds sugar; 1.5 cups apple cider vinegar; 1.25 tablespoon of lemon grass oil; 1.25 tablespoon of powdered citric acid; mix and put into alum. pie plates and smooth out; score or divide into sections; let dry until harden.  Here is my lazy man’s sugar cake recipe:  4 pounds of sugar; 6 ounces of water or leftover sugar syrup; mix as above.  I open the hive top just enough to slide in the cake in the space provided by the shim, and close up quickly so as not to chill the bees.  The cake should be placed right on top of the frames, not the inner cover, so the bees can access the cake directly.  I also really like to feed fondant the same way.  I tried making my own, and trust me, it is a lot of work and I now buy it ready made.  There is also the mountain camp method (look that up), but I have tried that and didn’t like it.

By now you should have already done your winter prep. Such as reduced the entrance (mouse guard), provided wind break, varroa mites under control, and all the rest, so other than feeding hives that are light, there is little or nothing you can do to or for the bees.  

Now you have time to build, repair, replace equipment; read a great book by Thomas D. Seeley, The Lives of Bees; spend some time planning for next year.  

In my next installment, December, I want to spend some time on planning.

“Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand, and do it well.” Coach Nick Saban.