Our Meeting Location is Unavailable for Tonight's Meeting
(From President, Nate Muller):
Just to review a few things that we would have covered in this meeting:
1) Virginia State Meeting - https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org - The Virginia State Beekeepers meeting is Saturday, November 2. This is an easy 2 hour drive and is a great place to meet beekeepers from all over the state as well as hear from excellent speakers. You can also place orders for equipment with vendors and pick up at the meeting, usually for a discount (I think with Dadant you get a 20% discount). It's a good time to order winter patties, if you feed those, or equipment you may need to build over winter for the next year.
During the state meeting you can participate in the Virginia State Master Beekeepers program. The program has 3 levels: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master. If you're finishing your second season, at least, you can take the apprentice test. I highly recommend it, just studying for the test reinforces many things you may have have forgotten (or misremembered in my case). It's best to register for the tests and apply for the program in advance of the meeting; however, you can register as soon as you arrive on location. Take a look at this if you're interested: https://www.virginiabeekeepers.org/Master-Beekeeper-Program
2) It's time for last inspections. If the daytime temp is over 65 and it's not windy, do some final analysis and take notes. How many frames of capped brood do you have? How many frames of eggs and larvae? Is the brood pattern solid or spotty? How many frames of pollen do you have? How many frames of uncapped syrup? How many frames of capped syrup? Is the syrup located above the brood in a traditional pattern or is the hive arranged strangely? How strong is the hive (population approximation).
If you keep all these notes, you will start to get an idea of what condition a hive needs to be in to survive the winter. For instance, although I've not lost any hives over winter, I have had some come through much better than others. I've found that hives that do not have 5 frames of brood (3 capped and 1 with larva, 1 with eggs) struggle early in spring, and often require brood boosts from other hives.
3) It's time for 2:1 emergency feeding of hives that are light in stores. 2:1 syrup can be made without heat, in a 5 gallon bucket using warm tap water. Stir the mixture for 3 minutes to break up the sugar clumps and then let it sit for 1/2 hour. Stir again for 3 minutes, making sure to get the sugar off the bottom back into the solution and let sit for anohter 1/2 hour. Stir a third time for 3 minutes and it should be completely dissolved at this point. When the daytime highs start to get into the mid 50s it is time to stop feeding and remove feeders from hives (leaving feeders on with wet food in cold weather can kill a hive.
4) Remove apivar strips if it's time. Don't leave the strips in over winter! This helps mites build resistance to amitraz, which is our last "big gun" right now for mite treatment/
5) Combine weak hives. I am a big proponent of taking losses in the fall. I'd rather sacrifice a queen and combine two weaker hives into a hive that has a chance than loose both hives over winter.
6) Set entrance reducer to small opening. Unless you have an enormous population in your hive, you may want to reduce your entrance to the small, 1 inch, opening.
7) Make sure mouse guards are in place and there's no mice or snakes in the hive already. (I just drive a nail in the middle, right in front of the small entrance. This makes a 1/2" space on both sides and no mouse can get through.
8) Ensure you have a top entrance unobstructed for ventillation. Lack of ventillation and starvation due to high mite loads is the biggest killer I've seen at club member's hives. All I do for ventillation is make sure that my top entrance is not blocked by the telescoping cover and the inner cover is flipped so the entrance side is down. For very very strong hives, I'll staple a piece of newspaper to the inner cover just as a safety precaution.
9) Replace removable bottoms/mite trays. This is optional - some people leave the screen open all year long, I close mine.
Hope to see many of you at Weyers Cave in 2 weeks!!