API of the Month

Mathieu DOMECQ

Editor-in-chief of the API blog of the month

Here, our bees are currently resting. Now is the time when all beekeepers will be making sure that their colonies overwinter well so they will be back in shape next spring! Find all of my advice in your API BLOG OF THE MONTH.

When it comes to the news, things are not looking good for our bees. Neonicotinoids are back in the picture. This is a government decision that is not likely to help the species and other pollinators.

Winter colonies

The colony should keep warm over the next few months, with a constant temperature of around 35°C at the heart of the cluster. The population should be sufficiently large, sometimes with a lifespan of up to 120 days for our protected bees.

In colonies that are too weak, the south side of the hive should be closed up with an opposing insulating partition after all the empty frames (at least those that are not completely full) have been removed. You can also choose to bring two small colonies together in the same hive.

In winter, it makes sense to narrow the entrances for a number of reasons: to avoid too much draught; so as not to be surprised by mice who are looking for somewhere to sleep, for example; and to prevent the bees from coming out for no reason and getting tired and therefore consuming honey.

Metal entrance door for the hive.
Metal entrance door for the hive.

Isolating hives

There is a tendency to overwinter colonies with a plywood frame cover, or at best a simple feeder. This is not the best way to keep them warm. Aluminium insulation can be placed on top that covers the tops of the frames, and includes an extra feeder. Remember to leave access in the insulation for the bees!

This material will keep in the heat emitted by the bees. What’s more, in spring we see clear development in the swarms that have had insulation compared with those that haven’t.

Feeding the hives

Are you one of the many people who don’t know when to use sugar paste and when to use syrup? Syrup is consumed by bees when the outdoor temperature is above 12°C. If it is lower than this, they will not have the strength and ability to assimilate the food.

In November, syrup may be given either in small doses to stimulate the queen’s laying, at an amount of around ½ kg per day over a week; or to supplement the weight of the reserves by providing a complete bag of ApiInvert® syrup.

From December, you can start helping bees with sugar paste. This will be eaten directly by the bees and not stored. Depending on the colony, we place one or two bags of ApiFonda® in during the winter, usually at the end of December and early February in the south.

Positioning of a plastic feeder with double compartments, for syrup and sugar paste.
Positioning of a plastic feeder with double compartments, for syrup and sugar paste.

Did you know?

Although they are often necessary, substitutes can have an impact on the health and productivity of bees. Choosing the right product is therefore crucial. The natural diet of bees is honey, which consists of 80% sugar. Any alternative food should therefore essentially contain this important component. Südzucker’s sugar-based feed products meet these requirements in full, providing you with optimal nutrition for your bees. Other nutritional products such as starch products have a different composition and therefore do not really correspond to bees’ natural feeding habits.

Keep sharing your experiences with us on social media!

Protect your hives well for winter,

and we’ll be back again soon with the latest API blog of the month!



Photos ©theruchersdemathieu

Working bee