Are you ready?

For me, this is one of the most critical times of the year in beekeeping. I want my hives healthy, strong, and with plenty of food for the winter. If all of this is in place, most of my hives are going to get through the winter. I have been feeding my hives since August. I have done a couple of mite counts and they have varied from good to bad. I have done a couple of treatments and the one I have on currently is Formic Pro (the new Mite Away strips). I am planning on installing fondant in my hives once the bees stop taking sugar water. All of this normally works and I have found over the years that if I follow this path, I have lost very few hives over the winter and that cold weather really has little or no effect on my hives. It seems to me that I am working with my hives more at this time of the year than any other time other than possibly at honey harvest. I do this because I do not like paying for new hives in the spring and the hives that come through the winter take off like gang busters in the spring.

I have not mentioned replacing the queen in the fall. This is something I have not found time to do, not to mention the large hives in the fall are difficult to work with when you are trying to locate a queen. I do know that the nucleus hives I take through the winter will produce more honey than I expect and the production hives often do not produce what I would expect. I feel that swarming plays a huge role in this as the production hives grow so fast that they quickly become crowded and then swarm, whereas the nucleus hives have a young queen with good pheromones to keep the hive together even if they get a little crowded prior to adding new supers. Each year I tell myself that this is also something I need to be doing and of course each year it does not get done.

This time of the year is the beginning of the bee year. What you are doing now translates to what your year will be with beekeeping. I don’t want to be starting anew with hives in the spring. This past year was a good year for me, both in beekeeping and in being the president of this club. It has been my honor to be your president. I am hoping for even a better year next year. I am always looking at ways to make my hives better and, by the same token, you the members have made this club better. I am encouraged by the turn-out of membership at each meeting, the advancements we have made in our website, the increase in membership and the education that we have provided to so many. We could not accomplish this without you, the members. Your involvement is what the hive (MCBA) needs to stay alive and healthy. Here's to next year.

-Leon Vandenberg

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