December 2019 Beekeeper’s Corner

By Jerry Przybylski, local bees preferred

Register hives January 1 with the Local County Agricultural Commissioner (CAC). It’s mandatory now.
The easiest way is https://beewherecalifornia.com/. Second best is the form on our website.

Our so-called winter has arrived. Mostly we will have rainy days, overcast days, some days with temperatures below 50ºF, and a few nice days when we can peek into our hives. (remember, real winter means snow on the ground for months.)
Our bees forage, some hives more than others, when it’s warmer than that magic 50º temperature.  Watch entrances looking for normal foraging. Are the bees returning with pollen? That’s a good sign.
It’s OK to take a quick look at the bee activity under the top cover, or between boxes. Lift the back of the hive to assess food stores. If a colony has capped honey it probably doesn’t need to be fed.

Bees were busy processing nectar during the recent good weather. If hives gained weight this fall, remove excess capped honey frames and leave uncapped honey. Rearrange the hive so the queen has drawn next to the brood ball to lay eggs in.  When rearranging frames, don’t split up the brood ball.
More than one pollen frame per brood box will limit the queen’s ability to lay eggs during the expansion expected late this month or next month.  Extra pollen frames are best preserved by freezing so the wax moth, and sap beetles don’t destroy them. If storing them outdoors, take precautions to keep rodents out; they like pollen too.

When the bees cluster up, they still transpire, so warm moist air raises to the top of the hive. On cold nights, humidity inside the hive condenses on cold surfaces. When the top cover is colder than the dew-point, it condenses there. Cold water, dripping on bees is bad. Dampness promotes mildew and mold growth in the hive too. In cold climates beekeepers put “blankets” or porous fiber board under the top cover to absorb the water. Instead, covering the hive’s top cover with insulation helps keep the top cover warmer than the dew-point, which blocks condensation. Convective air currents carry the moisture to the side of the hive where water beads up on the inside walls and dribbles down.
Tip hives “forward” to promote water draining out the front.
On rainy days your bees will appreciate an “awning” over their entrance. Landing in a water puddle is no fun.

When strong winds are predicted, make sure hives are secure and stable. If needed in your yard, make sure the stone is on top of the top cover.

The bee supply stores are filling my in-box with ads this week; yours too? Buy the things on your expansion wish-list when they’re on sale.
Clean up, repair, and build new equipment now so it’s ready when needed next spring.
Catch up on reading the stack of last year’s bee magazines, and reading the list of articles on the internet.
Bake some honey cookies for Christmas.

Propolis Ointment Recipe from Bonnie Morse

1 Part Beeswax (1/4 cup by volume or 58 grams by weight)
4 parts Coconut Oil (1 cup by volume or 217 grams by weight)
1 part Honey (1/4 cup by volume or 85 grams by weight)
1 part Propolis Tincture (1/4 cup by volume or 47 grams by weight)

In a double-boiler, melt all ingredients.
Remove from heat.
Stir continuously to prevent separation, until congealed.
Pour into containers.
Propolis Tincture

Place an inch of propolis scrapings in a container.
Cover the propolis with an inch of 151-Proof Rum, or 190-Proof Ever clear if available,
and seal the container.
Let stand.
Agitate daily.
The tincture is ready when no more solids dissolve.
Decant the brown liquid, the tincture, off of the sludge, and store in a sealed container.
The sludge remaining may be discarded or used as a component of your Привой и роевня, your Russian scion.