Wintering bees at low temperatures allows you to extend their lifespan by a couple of weeks and get excellent honey without any impurities. The fact is that in the wild, insects consume 3-4 kg more honey, and increased feed consumption leads to a stronger filling of the intestine with feces and can cause vomiting of nests. However, in order for the bees to successfully winter in the street, it is necessary to create some conditions for them, which can be learned later.
Is bee wintering possible in the wild?
Wintering insects in natural conditions allows beekeepers to reduce labor costs and save money on the construction of winter houses. At the same time, for the good preservation of bee colonies, it will be necessary to pay attention to several factors:
- Q factor hive . They need to be insulated, made 2-wall or made from a board 60 mm thick. In addition, the hives should be wrapped with paper, roofing paper and covered with snow above the roof by 0.5 m or more. The fact is that snow has low thermal conductivity, therefore it will provide an optimal microclimate in the nest and will prevent sudden temperature changes.
- Access to feed . A sufficient amount (up to 30 kg) of high-quality feed should be in the nest of wintering insects. For their free movement under the canvas, it is worth laying rails with a cross section of 10x10 mm across the frames in the autumn.
- Snow removal . In early spring, snow should be discarded from the front wall of the hive so that it is heated by the sun's rays, and the bees can make the first flyby. Warming and bright light will help them get out of a state of rest, which is necessary for their earlier development and quick change of wintering bees. Along with snow removal, hay or straw should be spread in front of the hive so that insects do not die in the snow when flying over.
If you do not comply with all the necessary requirements, the bee colonies will die or leave the winter weakened, so in the summer they will have to be strengthened, which can be ineffective. However, even if all conditions are met, there can be large wastes and weakened bees in the wild, but you should not worry about this. The fact is that those families that successfully survive the winter will have special energy, hard work and will gain strength faster than the family that spent the winter in Omshanik.
It is believed that the mobilization of their protective forces and the will to survive are of great importance in the successful wintering of bees. If insects winter on the street every year, they go through natural selection and can subsequently withstand bad weather. If bees hibernate every year indoors, they get used to optimal conditions, and other skills and hope for help are developed in their genes. The probability of their successful wintering in vivo is low.
Wintering in the wild in the steppe zones, where until January there is practically no snow, is undesirable, since a strong wind will blow away the meager cover, and the bee colonies will die, having failed to survive such conditions.
Wintering conditions in the wild
It should be prepared for it in the fall, until the cold. Experienced beekeepers determine the willingness of hives to meet winter by the following actions:
- Find the uterus and determine its age. Further offspring and family growth depend on her.
- Check how much brood is present.
- Look through the honeycombs and determine the suitability of bees for wintering.
- They carefully monitor the bees, identifying and removing sick insects.
In preparation for wintering bees pay attention to the following parameters:
- Feed . The highest demands are made on them, because the life of the whole family depends on the quality of honey. So, they take it from the main bribe, since it is rarely hardened. It is important to make sure that the food was in abundance, since you should not allow either a hunger strike or overfeeding of bees.
- Frames with a feather . Do not forget about the framework containing the bee bread . They are placed near the club, best of all around. Honey is taken mainly in light, because it is most suitable for winter - it crystallizes less and thickens less often. The honey should not be paddy. To clarify this, he is handed over to the laboratory.
- Disinfection They process the hive, destroying all pests, because they are the distributors of various infectious diseases. It is carried out after the nest is fully formed, and the exit of the young growth is completed. All bees must undergo processing. Beehives are disinfected with steam and smoke, as they will not harm insects. Read here how to smoke bees with a smoke gun.
This video talks about how to prepare bees for wintering in the wild:
In general, to create favorable conditions for bees, the following recommendations are followed:
- Each family is left 3 kg more honey than those bees that winter in Omshanik. It is important that honey is of good quality, without impurities. If it is contained even in small quantities, the family will perish.
- Create a large frame space. Warming should be porous, and the upper notch is required.
- By the end of September, insulation in the form of cotton pads is removed in the hives so that the bees do not form a club in the warmest corners of the hive. With weak warming of the hive, the bees will find the warmest place, which is usually located in the middle of the frames, just at the location of the brood.
- By the end of October, the canvas to be saturated with propolis is being replaced with a new one. The nest is insulated with breathable, porous material. It could be:
- dry moss;
- finely chopped straw;
- If the hive has several tiers, where two families live, put up a mesh store, and not with a closed bottom. You can even use empty cases filled with chopped straw, as bees hibernate much better in them. In them, insects are much later engaged in growing brood, so there will be many winter bees. Such stores are also an excellent prophylactic against varroatosis in the autumn and spring seasons. How to treat bees for varroatosis, read here .
- Arrange in the hive up to 5 tiers. They are insulated both from the sides and from the inside. At the same time, buildings are separated by breathable ceilings. Bees 2 and 5 tiers are heated by neighboring families. They consume less food, so their intestines are not very full, and subpestilence is almost 2-3 times less.
- A plank with a slight slope is attached to the hive to protect the structure from cold gusty winds that can blow into the summer. In addition, this device will be good protection from birds.
- For a better wintering, they put on a kind of shirts made of cellophane film on the hive, which is excellent protection from winds and snow. You can put on this insulation already at the end of August and not remove it until mid-May. By winter, the lower slots are closed, and the upper ones are left open. Shirts protect families very well, which can be noted already in the summer, when the bees will collect more honey. However, it is important to ensure that moisture does not accumulate between the wall and the film, as it will gradually turn into ice.
Beekeeper beginners should be aware that hives should not be left for the winter if high-voltage wires pass nearby. The fact is that the electric field affects the activity of bees: the temperature in the nest rises, and they begin to consume more food, which affects their wintering.
How to arrange nests?
There are several ways to form bee nests for wintering:
- Double sided . It is used in cases where the family is strong enough. They put 2 frames weighing 2 kg in the central part of the hive. Around these frames, the most complete frames weighing up to 4 kg are installed. In total, the total weight of honey should be 30 kg.
- Installing frames using the angular method . In this case, set the frame from the edge. First, they take the frame that is completely filled with honey with the highest weight. Behind it comes a smaller frame and so on as it descends. The very last frame should not weigh less than 2.5 kg.
- Way Beard . Great for young families. In the center, a heavy frame is fixed, completely filled with honey. Already from them come the most lightweight frames. In the total amount of honey should not be less than 15 kg.
Ways to organize wintering in the wild
When wintering bees on the street, it is extremely important to properly insulate the hives. There are several simple ways of warming that were invented by experienced beekeepers. We will consider them below.
To insulate the hives, some beekeepers use shrouds that protect insects from gusty winds and frost. They are made as follows:
- Cases are made immediately for 2-6 beehives. For this purpose, use wooden boards, as well as straw, sedge, reeds and tree branches.
- Logs or logs are laid at the bottom, at a height of 10 cm from the ground, so that the casing does not rot from dampness. Then lay a heater made of natural materials and set the hives in such a way that the fenders look in different directions. They make corridors so that bees can fly around. Letki protect overhead tablets.
- Side walls and floor fasten together. To do this, use nails and hooks. At the same time, they leave a space that is filled with insulation materials from leaves, straw, hay. Top also provides insulation. They lay the roof so that atmospheric moisture cannot penetrate the hive. It is attached to the side walls of the casing. Everything is covered with waterproof roofing material.
- When the snow falls, the covers cover them with a layer of about 50-80 cm. It will serve as an additional insulation. With the onset of spring, snow is removed and the summers are cleared from it so that the bees can make spring flights.
If the hives are hidden by their covers, the bees fly over in the fall, when others no longer fly. In the spring, they behave more actively than other relatives.
After the winter, the casings are thoroughly dried in the sun and put away for storage in a warehouse.
Bees will tolerate wintering better if hives are placed in trenches. To do this, choose a dry place, near which groundwater does not pass. A good option is the southern slope, where the soil is the most loose. Place the hives in trenches this way:
- Set the hives in one or immediately in two rows. They dig a trench with a depth of about 1 m. The width from below should be about 80 cm, and from the top –110 cm. For one family, you need to calculate about 70 cm. You should not install more than 20 hives in one trench, but it is better to dig another one nearby.
- After the trench is dug, wait a while, so that the soil is completely dry. After sand is poured to the bottom about 5 cm thick and the logs are laid.
- Beehives are placed on stacked logs and aligned in the middle. The walls should not touch the ground and adjacent hives.
- Logs are again placed on the hives, and then boards and well-dried straw, which will serve as insulation. The optimal thickness of its layer is 30 cm. Then, about 50 cm thick earth is poured on top. It is slightly compacted and a slight slope is made so that water flows into a ditch, which is dug nearby. It should have a depth of 25-30 cm and a width of 40-50 cm.
- To supply air to the trench, at a distance of about 8 m, ventilation pipes are installed. Their diameter should be about 10 cm. They try to lower the pipes deeper, but they should not come into contact with the hives. The upper part should rise. To protect from rain and snow, a visor is installed. These pipes should always be open, but at low temperatures they can be slightly covered.
Some beekeepers believe that ventilation pipes in trenches are not needed, since bees are useful in carbon dioxide. However, in the trenches, water vapor is also emitted, so the insects still need fresh air, for the passage of which pipes are mounted.
- Letters are fully open, and heaters are removed from the side. From above it is enough to place a thick straw mat.
Approximately the same temperature is set in the trenches, but the beekeeper cannot control the condition of the bees and regulate the air humidity, which is the disadvantage of this method.
They dig up bees at the same time as in the case of wintering in Omshanik. This time falls on the end of March - the beginning of April. Digging trenches in the evening, so that by morning the bees become calmer, and they can be exposed to the open air. Podmor at such a wintering is small, and about 6 kg of feed per family is consumed.
Under the snow
The most natural way to winter the bees is to cover the hives with snow. There is no need to worry that insects can suffocate. You just need to leave the doors open and make sure that they do not clog with snow.
Snow is an excellent temperature regulator, so bees under the snow will feel no worse than in Omshanik. Only the front wall should be covered with plywood sheet to create an air gap. The sides can be covered with a tarp so that the wind does not blow into small slits. A big plus of this method is that the tits will not be able to eat bees under the snow.
There is also a group method of wintering bees under the snow, which involves the installation of hives in a dense row in a sheltered place, with summers to the south.
Features of wintering in the northern regions
Experienced beekeepers organize wintering of bees in the wild in the northern regions, taking into account some nuances:
- Use thin-walled hives, but free in size. They contain bees all year round. Letki keep open.
- Beehives are built from several buildings. Wintering is carried out in two of them, but sometimes only in one, but a store must be attached to it. In each case, 9 frames are installed, taking into account the fact that the upper bars should be 12 mm thinner than usual. Due to this, the uterus can move into the body higher.
- Only those families that occupy two buildings at once leave wintering in the open air. Honey is taken completely as it may contain a pad. In the fall they give bees sugar syrup at the rate of up to 25 kg per family. For the winter, 3 frames with a perga are always left. In the spring, the bees are not fed food, since it is still quite cold in the north.
- So that in the upper part of the hive there is no accumulation of moisture vapor, heaters from thin foam (3 cm) are laid. Openings are made in the roof for moisture to escape.
- To prevent the wind from blowing into the cracks, the hives are wrapped with paper that does not allow moisture to pass through, and the slots are covered with inclined plates.
- Hives try to bury as deep as possible in the snow.
In severe Siberian conditions, bees will survive in the wild only under a layer of snow.
Features of wintering in the southern strip
Wintering of bees most favorably takes place in the southern regions, where the temperature in winter ranges from -5 ... -3 ° С. In such conditions, it is better to leave bees for the winter outdoors. However, even in this case, some nuances should be taken into account:
- In the south, winds often blow, and damp weather lasts a long time, so it is very difficult for an insect to keep a constant temperature inside the hive. Often there is an icing of the walls. After warming, the ice melts, mold appears, which is detrimental to bees. In order to prevent this, it is still recommended to insulate the hives with at least waterproof paper or roofing paper.
- When the weather is warm for a long time in the fall, the bees are forced to fly and seek honey for bribes, due to which weakening of families occurs. To survive these periods, they need to leave more feed.
- It is necessary to protect bees from strong, cold and humid winds. For this purpose, an apiary is installed inside the bushes or a fence is built. Do not neglect this step, given the fact that bees are easier to tolerate frost than wind.
The disadvantage of wintering bees in the wild in the southern regions is that due to warm weather they are forced to fly over in winter and early spring. Because of this, insects become weaker, and many of them do not survive until late spring.
Checking bees in winter
If the wintering of insects is organized in compliance with all the rules, there is no need to check and disturb the bees. In practice, most beekeepers prefer to periodically drop by wintering insects. This is done in compliance with individual rules:
- To look inside the hive, remove the lid. This work is done with great care, without making any unnecessary noise.
- Weather at check should be warm and without wind. At the same time, it can be cloudy so that the bees do not want to fly around.
This video shows how to inspect bees in winter:
In order not to open the lid of the house, you can determine what sound is made from the hive. If it is quiet, then everything is fine in the hive, so bees should not be disturbed.
Pros and cons of wintering in the wild
There is still controversy over the wintering of bees. Some believe that an insect is better in vivo, while others prefer to keep them in a warmer omshanyk.
The main advantages of wintering bees in the wild are as follows:
- It is much easier for the beekeeper to prepare for winter.
- When the temperature is outside, the beekeeper can organize a family flyby so that they are free of the full intestines. When placing insects in Omshanik, this is much more difficult to do, since you will need to carry the hives back and forth. This is especially true in those regions where there are no constant temperatures (it jumps from negative to positive values and vice versa).
- The bees that are on the outside, earlier make the first flyby, the uterus lays eggs. They themselves can clean up the scum.
As for the cons, they are as follows:
- Not all beekeepers have the means and facilities for building a winter hut. In addition, you have to drag the hives, and they are heavy, so you can’t cope without an assistant. There is an alternative option - to transport the hives, but this entails the investment of additional funds.
- You will need to find materials to protect the apiary from snow drifts and cover the wall, which is located on the sunny side.
- Care must be taken to protect the hives from the tits, as they bother them by tapping their beaks on the walls. Bees begin to fly out, and their tits eat.
- It is necessary to clean the snow around the hives, as well as monitor the air temperature so that with the slightest warming the bees do not fly around.
- It is necessary to take care of weak families, where there are only 4-6 frames. Most likely, they will not be able to safely winter, so it is advisable to share them with another family.
Organizing wintering of bees in the wild is not an easy task, which determines the health of bee colonies, their ability to collect honey and increase offspring. With the proper organization of the necessary conditions, insects will be able to overwinter favorably in natural conditions and will delight the beekeepers with excellent honey.