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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

One last sting: a fitting end to 2020

December 31 began cold and wet as usual, but I decided to check on my bees. I would hate for them to go into a new year without sufficient food, so I lifted the back of each quilt box a half-inch and peeked into the feeders one by one. Each stop took about five seconds, […] 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

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

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

Dry pollen substitute vs pollen patties: which is best?

Is it true that honey bees will store dry pollen substitute but not pollen patties? Is it possible to overfeed pollen in the fall? To answer the first question, picture a bee’s anatomy. The entire organism—front to back and top to bottom—is designed to collect pollen as dust. In the field, electrostatic charges accumulate on […] Read more