Finally a let up in rain and warm enough for me to play at the hive. There’s still traffic in and out of the hive, but less than during warmer weather when there was nectar and pollen in more plentiful supply. I didn’t see much pollen coming in at all. When I removed the syrup feeders, there were lots of the girls up there slurping up syrup.
After I removed the syrup feeders I removed the inner cover–which were firmly glued in place with propolis. The girls now have a candy-board and a quilt box to see them through the winter. I wanted to place a mouse guard today, but wasn’t successful since the girls have done such a good job of gluing it in place with propolis that I’m going to have to actually lift the bottom brood box in order to get it out. That means removing the other brood box and the super. I didn’t do that this afternoon. Other beekeepers in this area have told me that they do not use metal mouse guards–just the wooden entrance reducer. I would really prefer to put metal mouse guard on, but there was enough traffic and enough guard bees out that I didn’t attempt that today. I do have a metal shield that will fit over my entrance reducer so I’ll place that instead, once I get it cut down to 8-frame size.
I’ve heard different opinions for beekeepers on how the opening in the entrance reducer should be oriented–up or down. Mine is down now. I wasn’t concerned about this as there was an upper entrance in the inner cover. I heard that for winter, the opening of the entrance reducer should be on top if there is winter-die off: if it’s down it could be blocked with dead bees. Now that I’ve removed the inner cover to place the candy-board and quilt box, I no longer have and upper entrance or ventilation. One certainly hope that there’s not going to be winter-die off, but I know some bees will die during the winter. (I’m learning how thoroughly things can be glued in with propolis.)
So–do I place an Imrie shim to keep an upper entrance? Or am I going to have to lift the bottom box and change the orientation of the entrance reducer, or just substitute the mouse guard. I miss having the class before the bees arrived; however from the looks of the colony, they are training me pretty well. From Bee Journal, the inventor of the Imrie shim has written about it’s appropriate use–and providing upper entrance in fall and winter is not an intended use–it fact it’s an explicit no-no. Since he’s a successful beekeeper, and inventor of the shim, I think I may heed his advice. But then there is the advice to provide an upper entrance. . . .
Now I’m left with the quandary of the orientation of the opening in the entrance reducer! Multiple opinions. (I’m beginning to suspect that if you ask 10 beekeepers about this you’ll get 12 different answers. I can see the logic of having the opening at the upper edge of the reducer, especially for winter–especially if that is the only entrance. The solution is probably to get the entrance reducer out and place the mouse guard. No matter what it looks as if I’m going to have to lift that bottom box–which is pretty well filled with brood and honey, and the two above are now well filled with brood, and the upper with honey. (This all makes me contemplate the virtues of the long (horizontal) Langstroth hive–which is not the same as a top-bar hive.
All my questions aside, it was good to see so many bees working in the honey super and drawing and filling even the outermost frames. They’ve obviously been busy since my last inspection. That should give them a good honey supply for the winter. Being the “newbee” that I am, I am glad that the candy-board is on the hive. Much better safe than sorry come spring.
Ever since the nuc arrived here I’ve been used to going out almost every day–even in the rain sometimes–to see what’s going on at the hive. I’m sure that during the winter when I can’t see any traffic I’ll still be going out to look at the hive and wondering how things are inside. It’s rather amazing how attached you can get to a batch of insects! I’m sure it’s going to seem like a long winter, with rampant curiosity on my part. I do have to hope for another warm day so that I can remove the treatment I placed for varroa mites, but that’s going to be a very quick in-and-out for that purpose only unless it’s an unseasonably warm day.
(I’m pleased with how much honey is in the hive–I hope the candy-board is totally superfluous. I’m happier now that there is candy-board and quilt box on the hive.)