I think that the bees are done for the summer and will not be foraging much. We’ve been down near freezing a few nights and will have a good killing frost any day now. I think this is a week earlier than usual.
I have to figure the best way to feed the bees this fall to help them make it through the winter. I have reducers on the entrances to keep the cold air out. I pushed in the bottom boards all the way, but I am wondering if there isn’t a better way to keep drafts out of the bottom of the hives. I have heard of piling leaves around the hives. I might get some mulch and pile it up covering the base of the hives. (I have them on three layers of bricks to raise them up off the ground.)
I will buy a roll of roofer’s felt paper and wrap this around the hives, using a staple hammer. I have seen this method over and over again in posts as the best way to insulate the hives. If you put too much insulation on the hives they suffocate or they get too humid. The roofer’s felt keeps the wind off, but it is not water tight and air circulates under the felt, since you don’t wrap it tight. You have to be careful not to cover the bottom opening and also not cover the top. The top board has a notch so that acts as a vent for humid air, but is small enough to keep from chilling the bees.
I want to make a porch roof for each hive to keep snow from piling up over the entrance and suffocating the bees. It will be a small board that I can screw into the bottom hive body that will overhang the entrance.
Ethel is not dead. I poured some sugar slush on the top board last week and the last time I checked there were dozens of bees cleaning it up. The bees look young. I saw some activity over the weekend when it was a little warmer. There were lots of bees going in and out and I saw lots of dead bees on the ground. I think that the younger bees are cleaning out the dead.
Ethel had some kind of event back in July and may now be recovered a little. I think that there may not be much honey reserves and I will have to put the top feeder back on. I don’t want to keep the feeder on all winter, but they I am sure that they did no foraging for all of August and September. I first noticed that the hive was relatively inactive in early August, so if she had died, all of the bees would be dead by now, but when I lift the lid she seems to be full of young healthy bees.
I don’t like taking the hives apart, and I think it is now too cold to inspect the lower boxes. I could not help them if there was something wrong and I could only hurt them by exposing them to 40 degree winds.