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October Hive Work: Late Fall Prep

Updated: Oct 24, 2021

Sunny fall days are few and far between in the Northwest. The only thing fall-ing around here in October is usually rain. But today finally gave us an opportunity to open some hives to remove our Apivar mite treatment and place the first bits of our winter insulation.

Our Apivar was left in the hives for 42 days, as recommended by the manufacturer. We use two strips in each box, spaced on either side of the middle three frames. They get pretty well glued in by the end of 42 days and it's important to remove them gently to avoid rolling the queen.

We saw a pretty remarkable mite drop in the last two weeks of treatment since we put the bottom boards back in. So much, in fact, that it was a bit disconcerting and we will definitely be doing an oxalic acid treatment shortly to see if we get any more drop from that.

Oxalic acid is best used when the hive is bloodless in late fall as it does not penetrate the brood caps.

After removing the mite strips, we placed a layer of reflective insulation on top of the frames, underneath the inner cover. This is the same stuff that is used to wrap hot water tanks and can be found at the hardware store and cut to size. For now, this blocks our top entrance, but we plan to cut a notch out of it after we do our oxalic acid treatment.

Inside the top cover, we put another layer of reflective insulation, as well as a pillow. Our pillow is a chunk of fibreglass insulation in a heat-sealed bag. You can use almost anything with good insulation value (old towels, blankets, sawdust, etc.) in a size XL ziplock to achieve something similar.

We use plastic plugs in our top boards now for convenience, but you can also staple a bit of window screen over the hole for a bit more ventilation.

Once our daytime temperatures are closer to zero (Celsius), we will wrap our hives up for the winter. I'll post another video about it once we do that, but if you're wondering what to use, we wrap some of our hives in the same reflective insulation as you see in the video, and some in commercially-produced Bee Cozies.


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