October in Oregon is often time to make “last chance” decisions that can make the difference in our hives. However, many new houses have been painted in November in certain years due to sunny weather! Although every year is different, we should use our time wisely in October to give our bees, and ourselves, every chance for success.
October often presents the last opportunity to feed our hives. If we have done our job as beekeepers very well through the year but do not ensure adequate stores to make it through winter, all is lost.
Conducting final hive inspections in October gives us a chance to remove debris such as mite strips, queen cages, or . . .?
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.
Queenless hives can be combined or have nucleus hives 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 for 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. Mouse-damaged comb will often be drawn as drone comb in the next year. We want to avoid excessive drone comb as it will become a Varroa-breeding disaster in our hives.
Hive lids should be secured from gusty winds in some manner. Hives should be moved to high ground if flooding is an issue. What is the condition of your lids? Do they have cracks that will allow rain to trickle into the hive?
While insulation of hives is generally considered unnecessary in Oregon, many beekeepers cover pallets of hives with roofing felt or other materials 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!