October in Oregon is a winding down period for beekeepers after a year of hard work. It can also be a time to make “last chance” decisions that can make the difference in our colonies.
When returning to hives to pull mite treatment materials, beekeepers must often lift the top brood box. This gives a clear indication of the amount of winter stores. Mark the hives that feel light and give them a few more shots of syrup if weather permits. Feeding syrup too late in the season when temperatures are below 40oF can result in fermented honey in the feeders and frames. Dysentery often follows. Frames of honey added to light hives should be placed in a position that respects the profile of the brood nest. We want to avoid dividing the brood nest.
The last syrup feedings in early October is the best time to include Fumagilin-B for Nosema control.
Queenless colonies can be combined or have nucleus colonies installed. But special care must be taken to maintain the tight, consolidated brood nest and area above with stores.
Late-season sampling for mite levels, post treatment, gives very good information on the efficacy of treatments used. Many beekeepers like to perform an oxalic acid dribble, or a “fall clean-up” later on in the year when the brood is at its lowest level. Sampling in October can help in the decision making of such measures.
Mouse guards installed in the entrance are highly recommended to save your valuable comb through winter. Some prefer entrance reducers which can exclude mice and protect the hive from cold windy conditions.
Hive lids should be secured from gusty winds in some manner. Hives should be moved to high ground if flooding is an issue.
While insulation of hives is generally considered unnecessary in Oregon, many beekeepers install covers of various materials over the entire pallet of hives in order to shed rain and snow. This really helps with moisture control as well as helps preserve hive materials.
Once you have done all that you can do for your bees, how about doing something for the beekeeper? Sign up for the Oregon State Beekeepers Association Fall Conference. Do it now! A lot of very valuable information will be presented there that you just cannot afford to miss! Please remember, the OSBA Fall Conference is greatly improved by your presence and fellowship there!