The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

A fall-absconded hive

Adding a bottom boardI probably should have done this last month, but I took a few minutes this week to close up our hives for winter. Hive winterization involves adding a bottom board beneath the screened bottom and removing any boxes that aren't currently in use, with the purpose of both tasks being to make the hive easier to heat over the winter. Many people do the same thing in their domiciles, in fact --- if you really only use your bedroom and kitchen in the winter, why pay to heat the whole house?

Unfortunately (but unsurprisingly) I found the daughter hive empty when I went to remove the bottom box. Six weeks ago, I could tell that this hive was ailing, and even though though I tried to double down on feeding them, the bees didn't seem very interested in sucking up sugar water. In retrospect, I suspect the colony I was trying to feed was already gone at that point, with bees from our other hive flying over to suck down the sweet Empty combmoisture. My guess is based on the fact that this hive didn't actually die out --- like the one we treated with powdered sugar last fall, the entire colony simply absconded, leaving only half a dozen dead bees behind.

So we're back down to one hive heading into the winter, and even that colony felt a bit light when I lifted the two top boxes to take out the cleaned-out box underneath. I definitely don't seem very good at keeping bees alive without chemicals and copious sugar water (and I'm unwilling to resort to the methods other beekeepers use to keep their hives humming). But we've got another trick up our sleeve for next year, so I'm not giving up!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I am soaking up your beekeeping posts with great anticipation. My next livestock will be bees if things go according to plan. (Do they ever?!) It seems like we share the same philosophy of bee keeping, so it is very helpful to observe your process. Thank you!
Comment by Michelle Thu Nov 13 09:52:21 2014

Just wanted to share a video with Paul Stamets about bees and fungi in case you have not yet had a chance to watch it.

Comment by Brian Thu Nov 13 10:22:07 2014

What a sweet "please wait" page! How about candy board? I put candy board/ventilation/insulation supers on both my hives. They're Langstroths but I'm sure the same principles hold for Warre hives. I blogged this here: with a mod here: Good luck! Kaat

Comment by Kaat Thu Nov 13 18:24:42 2014
I know that this post is a couple years old, but i just started ready your blog, and so i went back to the begining, and am working my way through. i am wondering, why you don't take the bees you have and stick them back into a langstroth hive. I know you didn't have a good experiance with it, but they were a different type of bee then. I really think you should try that now that you have found a good bee that will stick.
Comment by Nikki Mon Aug 29 16:54:11 2016

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