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The winter hive: to tap or not to tap

A beekeeper in Kentucky wants to know if tapping on the winter hive is really as dangerous as her mentor claims. She writes: [My mentor] came over last Sunday to help me with a winter checklist. While we were standing there, I leaned down and tapped on the hive to hear the bees inside. This […] Read more

How to feed stacked nucs in winter

Vince Poulin, a beekeeper in Vancouver, British Columbia, sent me an idea he had for feeding nucs that were stacked one atop another during the winter. This is a problem I’ve wondered about but never actually solved. It’s nice to be able to stack nucs or small colonies with a double-screen board (Snelgrove board) so […] Read more

Don’t let your bees go hungry

Here is a quick reminder about the amount of food a winter colony can burn through. Contrary to logic, your colony will eat more during a warm, balmy winter than it will during a colder one. On warm days, honey bees will leave the hive and fly around looking for food, but flying is extremely […] Read more

Peek inside a feeder frame

Back in October, Vince Poulin of British Columbia sent us pictures of a feeder frame he designed for feeding nucs that were stacked one atop the other for winter. I thought it was a creative idea that solved a problem with stacked colonies—they can be hard to feed without much disruption. As a follow-up, Vince […] Read more

Have beekeepers gone bananas?

Every few years we raise a new crop of beekeepers who want to feed bananas to their bees as a winter supplement. The forums are filled with anecdotal stories of bees thriving on ripe bananas while overcoming every imaginable pathogen and parasite. A recent Instagram posting explained that the potassium in bananas will help the […] Read more

What are winter bees and what do they do?

As beekeepers, we tend to underestimate the importance of winter bees. We are especially unconcerned late in August, just when the colony is on the brink of producing these winter wonders. On a sultry August afternoon when the cat is long and the air is too hot to move, the next brew may seem more […] Read more

Happiness is a mid-winter cleansing flight

Well, I don’t know if the bees are happy, but I certainly am. Whenever I see winter bees dart outside on a cold afternoon and drop a semi-solid parcel, I sigh with relief. I want to say, “See! You can do this! You can make it till spring, one day at a time.” I’ve never […] Read more