Happy New Year All!
Generally speaking I never make a New Year's resolution. But I suppose it would be wise of me to start thinking ahead and setting some goals for my beekeeping in 2013. 2012 was a good year and I certainly desire to learn from my mistakes and improve things this year!
To start at the start, I have to get the two existing hives through the Winter alive! Green Hive is in good shape with stored honey (last time I checked) and I have put supplemental feed into White Hive. It consists of a honey super (medium) with five frames removed. One of the remaining five frames still in the box is a mostly capped frame of honey that I did not harvest from Green Hive. The empty space normally used by the five frames left out is now occupied by a sheet of newspaper laid on top of the frames in the box below and a bunch of raw cane sugar poured on top of the newspaper. I misted the sugar with some water to make a small crust on the surface of the sugar pile. Otherwise the bees can start removing the sugar thinking it is trash. Ideally, this serves a number of functions: It is a source of emergency food if the bees consume all the remaining honey and the sugar and newspaper help to absorb some of the excess moisture in the hive.
I hope to have at least one "warm" day for the next three months that I will have a chance to quickly check the hives. I think a day in the low 50's would be warm enough to pop the cover really quick to check them.
My second goal is to expand my operation to three hives! If both my hives survive the winter, I plan on doing a split of whichever hive is stronger. As a part of this split, I plan to let the bees raise a new queen of their own. This will be sort of a foray into queen rearing or at least observing the bees as they do it. An additional part of expansion is of course building a new hive, which I have already begun. One of the lessons I learned this past year is that I shouldn't have ignored the comments I have read in numerous books that talked about standardizing box sizes. I didn't think it would be that big of a deal to use all medium boxes until I wanted to move a medium sized frame into a deep sized box.
My third goal is to keep better records. Of course I did inspection and I took a lot of pictures which did help, but having a standardized method of recording what was on each frame seems to be a good idea. A clipboard with some paper would work, but I think I could create a nice little form that would make it easy. Ten boxes on the form where I could write down the percentage of brood, honey and pollen on a given frame should work, right?
My last goal is to do a better job of IPM (Integrated Pest Management). To be specific, I want to make sure I am doing a monthly sugar shake and mite count. I am still resolved to be chemical free in my hives, but I at least want a baseline on how many mites are in there. If they get too bad I could at least take some action such as doing a sugar shake on the entire hive, break the brood cycle by removing the queen or using drone comb to trap and freeze the mites.
Well, that is all for now. Hope you all have a great year. What are your bee related resolutions? =)