Beepeeking at Gisou is all about giving you, our community, a peek inside the world of bees & beekeeping. As our Beekeeper-In-Chief, Negar Mirsalehi is excited to bring you along with her beekeeping activities!
"As a beekeeper our patience is challenged in winter. We’re thinking of our bees, how they are doing and if they will survive winter. There are a few productive things you can do in winter as a beekeeper to keep your mind off from wondering how the bees are doing."
How to evaluate your bee season
It’s good to evaluate your last bee season in order to optimize your ways of working for the next bee season. Practice, reviewing and improving patterns will help you become a better keeper for your bees. At the Mirsalehi Bee Garden, we evaluate the season by reviewing our lost hives, our hive records and our targets.
Lost hives over the bee season
Ask yourself the following questions:
- How many hives did you lose this bee season?
- What was the cause of these losses?
- What can you do as a beekeeper to optimize the survival rate?
To improve our beekeeping, we need to evaluate our approach and think of better ways to care for the bees. Of course not everything is in our hands, but we can always improve.
We lost a few hives and some circumstances were uncontrollable, but we always learn and grow from them. Losing a hive is devastating, but not learning from it would be an even bigger loss!
Review your bee season hive records
It is important to keep records on your hive management. In autumn and winter it is time to organize your notes and look for insights: what areas can I improve for next bee season?
We have reviewed our hive records, which contain information on weather conditions, appearance, reproduction, capacity and disease. It gives us insights on our colonies and our equipment. But also on our growth without harming the bees and their environment. The wellbeing of our bees will always come first place when it comes to our beekeeping approach.
Evaluate your targets
Evaluate whether you reached your targets this season! Was your season successful all around? Are there areas you could improve? What are your new targets for next bee season?
We also had our personal and business targets for this season. Growing knowledge and experience and even more sharing our values and spreading awareness are part of this. We will set new goals and targets for the next bee season in the upcoming weeks!
Winter beekeeping chores
1. Observe the hives & take action
For a beekeeper, next to the evaluation of the season, winter is about observing. Checking whether the hive entrance is clear of snow or anything else that might prevent the bees coming in or going out. Is there anything in the area that could be bothering the bees? We can only observe to find out.
2. Feeding the colony
Another task is to make sure that the colony does not starve. Not by opening a hive, because we don’t do that in cold temperatures, but by lifting up the hive on one side to feel the weight. When the hive is easy to lift, it could be that the colony is running low on food storage.
Emergency feeding is a must to prevent the bees from starving. Especially since this fall in the Netherlands has been warmer than expected and the bees were more active. This would mean that they used more energy than usual which means they needed to consume more than usual.
3. Varroa mite treatment
One of our most important tasks in winter is our varroa mite treatment in December as step 3 in our 3-steps treatment program.
Other activities for beekeepers in winter
Winter also means that there is now time for activities that you didn't get to as a beekeeper during bee season.
Just a few tips for activities in winter:
- Read more beekeeping books;
- Attend beekeeping classes;
- Make beeswax candles;
- Repair / clean your equipment.
Hope you had a good bee season and that you are just as thrilled and excited for the new bee season like us at Gisou!