(Last Updated On: 29/06/2020)

Wintering Bees with Bruce White

A Step By Step Video

Recently, we spent some time with Bruce White guiding us through a detailed demonstration about preparing hives for winter. Commonly known as Wintering Bees. You can view it for free by clicking the play button below or visiting on youtube here.

Video Captions

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wintering bees you know is very
important one of the first observation

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you can make when you go to an apiary is
just look at the hive entrance in winter

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or any time of the year you can tell the
strength of the colony by the number of

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bees at the entrance in the case of this
colony you can see that the bees are

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right across the hive entrance which
indicates that all the brood frames are

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probably covered with bees so
numerically inside this hive there are a

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lot of bees by the activity at the
entrance you can also observe the amount

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of nectar going in and the amount of
pollen going in by pollen on the bees

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legs in the case of this colony
compared to the previous colony you can

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see there’s hardly any bees out the
front at all just an odd one coming out

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and this is a small entrance and is
only that wide so this would indicate

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there are not a lot of bees in this
colony going into winter in winter you

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know it’s extremely important that bees
are kept in the sun certainly not in the

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shade there is a disease called Nosema apis and Nosema ceranae and

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if bees are kept in the shade the bees
are more prone to that disease it

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affects their intestine and they can’t
digest food properly and the hive can

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quickly quickly lose feel bees in
winter if it’s in the shade the other

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important things as far as hives go and
the location is that the entrance should

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slope
should slope forward so if you’ve got a

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level if the entrance slopes forward you
know that’s a big advantage because if

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there’s any water gets in the entrance
and the entrance is shut out if the

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hive’s slightly backwards water can get in
there and it means the hive’s damp

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all winter so always have your entrances
slightly sloped forward the other

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important thing is at the entrance
you know the bees need free flight in in

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this case the hives on a concrete stand
but not everyone’s got concrete stands

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the way to overcome that is to get a
piece of core flute and often old real

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estate signs are handy and that lasts
for two or three years and you place

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that at the entrance like that so that
stops grass growing up the front of the

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entrance you don’t have to mow as close to
it and it’s temperature neutral so the

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bees can land on it it’s not going to
get hot it’s not going to get cold so

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that’s well worth doing when you’re
sighting bees for winter or any time of the

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year it’s also equally important to have
a strap on the hive if you don’t have a

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strap on the hive it can get bumped over
in winter and any time you don’t need to

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have the strap overly tight as long as
it holds the boxes together so that’s

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called an Emlock hive fastener I just touched it with one finger

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shut it if I was going to shift the bees
or move them I’d have it a lot tighter

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the wood moves during the winter or any
time after rain so you don’t need to

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strap that tight when you want to
inspect the hives for winter yeah it’s

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important to put the strap at the front
of the hive like so because

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you’re not going to stand there you need the smoker going properly and you need to smoke the

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entrance of the colony so by smoking the
entrance of the colony I’m telling the

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guard bees someone’s going to come use
the hive tool to take the lid off I lift

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the lid up a puff a few puffs of smoke
under it put the lid back on so the

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smoke going from the top to the bottom
to make the bees more docile

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you don’t want to open hives in winter
to inspect them yah when the weather’s

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really cold the other thing that I would
do is to feel the weight of the hive

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probably better the hive’s of strap on it
so you just get the hive by the back

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hand hole and lift it up like that and
that tells you the weight of the hive so

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before you open it you’ve got an idea as
to how much honey is stored on the hive

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I now remove the lid and put the lid at
the back of the colony because I’m down

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to stand at the back of the colony
I work it from the side I then puff

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smoke over all the frames and I look at
how many bees are on the frames in the

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top box which is called the super so I
can get the frame out and the second one

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from the wall is used the easiest one to
take out I take that frame out and I

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examine it in the case of this frame
there’s a few bees on it but it’s not

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covered with bees they’re stored honey
there and there’s empty cells and a

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little bit of nectar in there and no
pollen at all I can then remove this box

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to see what’s in the box underneath so
I’ll give it another puff and just to

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show you that this box has not got very
many bees in it at all so going into

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winter this box needs to be removed
because bees like warmth and they

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incubate their young at 34 degrees Celsius
so the easier you can make that happen

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the better particularly in coastal areas
because bees will have brood all winter in

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inland areas they may not have any brood
in the hive at all and they don’t have

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to maintain the temperature at 34
degrees Celsius only at 20 degrees

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Celsius to keep themselves warm so this
box yeah it needs to be taken away

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because there’s not very many bees in it
but

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there’s some honey and nectar so just put
that to the back at this stage I will

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puff it again to keep the bees under
control and we look at this box which is

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also called a super because it’s above
the bottom box with puff all over it and

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it’s important to puff over the whole
box and we can have a look at these

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frames as well and see what’s in here

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and we find a frame you know with a lot
more honey on it compared to the one at

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the top end you know a few more bees but
not not a lot of bees so take this

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box off hold it up on this edge
that’s much heavier by the weight and

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you can see there’s bees in it but not
a huge number of bees and not all the

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frames are covered with bees that to the
back we now look at the brood nest where

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the Queen will be so we remove the Queen
excluder from the colony and we check

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there’s no Queen on the Queen excluder
there’s no Queen and we put the Queen

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excluder upside down on there we then
smoke across the colony and we look at

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the frames here and all the frames in
this bottom box

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have got bees on them we then remove a
frame and the second one from the walls

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often the easiest one to remove careful
not to squash anything then we look at

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this and we find that’s a perfect frame
of protein or pollen so pollen is stored

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in that frame there which please need we
notice there’s a male bee there a drone

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so that’s a good sign that the colony is
still reasonably prosperous because in

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winter they often
throw drones out so you won’t see any

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drones I’ll just put this frame to one
side on the concrete thing and proceed

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to look at this colony so we notice here
that there’s a lot of pollen

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there’s brood in fact there’s male brood
there which is drone brood

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that’s worker brood there and the whole
frame is covered with bees so that’s

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what I call you know frame covered with
bees and on this side we’ve got an

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excellent frame of sealed brood so this
hive is going into winter in what I’d

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call good condition

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so I’ll put that frame back in there and
I’ll look at the next frame and we see

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it’s also well covered with bees so it’s
a good idea to do a brood inspection

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because we know the queen’s here because of the brood so we’ve got to shake the

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bees off into the box off the frame so
you can see most of the cells or all the

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cells and check for any abnormal brood
so you need to do that this time of the

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year or coming into winter for every
brood frame and check there’s no disease

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it’s no good just doing one or two
frames so we slowly work across now that

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we’ve got one frame out and I don’t need
to find the queen because I know the

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queen’s here because there’s brood present
so I check all the brood to make sure

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it’s healthy

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and I noticed there’s a lot of stored
pollen and really good brood so this

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hive is going into winter you know in
good condition with some stored honey

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there but probably you’ll see what this
frame on the side is it’s a frame of

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honey because I can feel the weight of
it so that’s a good frame of honey you

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know for stores for the bees in the
brood box to use the frame I took out

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was second from the wall on this side so
there’s nothing to stop me

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by putting it second on the
wall on this side now it’s important to

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control small hive beetle and the best
thing to control small hive beetle is

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Apithor so this is an Apithor and it’s a
harbourage like that

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that has got a chemical inside it that
the bees can’t get to and the chemical’s

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not volatile so it doesn’t get into
honey or wax in the hive and it can go

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on the bottom board and in the bottom of
the colony so I’m not sure if I can get

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it in this one

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so … so I’m going to remove
some frames to put this in the in the

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bottom

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so everything you do with bees you do
deliberately and you’re very much like

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unlikely to get stung so that that slips
in the bottom like so and then the

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frames can go back into the colony so
that’ll protect that hive from small

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hide beetle
should only be left in for a month and

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then can be removed so having done that
I then put the queen excluder on

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so I put the Queen excluder back on
there like that now because this hive is

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three boxes high and there’s not many
bees in the top two boxes but there’s

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plenty of honey there so for this hive
this hive for winter is better I can put a

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mat on it so this is a mat so it can be
carpet or it can be vinyl like this

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material plastic your material and I put
that there

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that’s going to have the effect of
keeping this colony warm because the

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heats going to be retained mainly in the
bottom box and not go up to the supers

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it’s important that the bees get round
the edge of the mat so if the bees can

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get around the edge of the mat they can
still get up into the top boxes and any

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honey that’s up in the top box here the
bees get access to and can take it down

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to the bottom box or eat it
if this wasn’t here the whole hive has

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got to be kept warm by having this here
it acts as a barrier and keeps the heat

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predominantly where the brood is and I
mentioned before 34 degrees is the brood

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temperature so I can then put these
boxes back on and leave the mat there

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and in this case because there was no
bees in the top box it needn’t be there

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even though there was honey in it so I
can put this hive back as a double hive

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and it would winter much better than if
it was left as a three-decker or

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alternatively if I didn’t want to take
this top box off

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and I had a mat on the hive I can leave
that top box on and the bees will

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control any pests and parasites that
make it into a box that’s taken off if a

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box is taken off
there’s pests that can get into the comb

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particularly wax moth that can destroy the
comb when the weather’s a bit warmer

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when the weather warms up or even this
time of the year so it’s quite

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acceptable to leave all your supers on
your hive but put a mat in now if these

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frames were covered with bees I’ll put
the mat on the second box so I’d pick it

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up from here and I put on the second box
like so and put the super’ on the top

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now at this time of the year there were
three boxes of bees there I could put

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the mat under lid just like that and
keep that like that because all the

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frames were covered with bees if the
population declines you can put the mat

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you know down in the second box there’s
no need to open hives in winter if you

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don’t have to so if you see good flight
you feel the weight of the hive there’s

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enough honey on it you can just leave it
and not open it up but never open hives

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up on cold windy days in winter because
it can do a lot of damage to the colony

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I’ll just mention one other thing take
this box again so if I had a

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hive that was only a single hive which
meant you know didn’t have a big

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population on it I could what I call
wrap the hive this is commonly done

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you know on the table ends and where areas are quite cold so I get a mat like this

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and if there’s only bees on say three
frames I slide the mat down between the

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three frames I fold it over fold it over
like that

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and push the edge
down there and these other

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frames you have got no bees on them
that’s what we call wrapping so keeps

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these three frames here now nice
and warm where the brood and the queen

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is and the bees can still get access to
these other frames if they had honey or

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something like that in but that’s only
when you’ve got really weak hives so it

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can mean the difference between a hive
surviving or not surviving because

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you’re keeping the colony and the
cluster warmer than it normally would be

0:18:54.760,0:19:01.260
because of the size of the cavity

0:19:06.580,0:19:15.080
so that’s how I would you know winter bees
sunny positions entrance not full covered

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with grass or anything like that hives
sloping forward so any moisture runs out

0:19:18.830,0:19:23.450
check the weight of the hive that
there’s enough honey on it if there’s

0:19:23.450,0:19:28.910
not enough honey on it you need to feed
the hive and that’s a whole different

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subject if you’re going to feed bees in winter you need to feed thick sugar syrup

0:19:33.590,0:19:38.870
or just plain white sugar that’s been
moist on a mat under the lid you don’t

0:19:38.870,0:19:47.080
feed thin sugar syrup but that’s the
topic for another day so if a colony is

0:19:47.080,0:19:53.540
numerically weak and where I you know
did the wrapping you can reduce the

0:19:53.540,0:19:58.400
entrance by blocking the entrance up so
the bees have got a reduced entrance

0:19:58.400,0:20:04.670
so you can use a piece of timber like
that and slide it in the entrance like

0:20:04.670,0:20:11.710
that and then there’s only that much
entrance some shutters that are on hives

0:20:11.710,0:20:17.480
have got slots on them that made the
entrance really small so bees can only

0:20:17.480,0:20:21.620
go in about three or four at a time so
reducing the entrance

0:20:21.620,0:20:26.360
you know also helps keep the colony warm
in winter and when spring and summer

0:20:26.360,0:20:33.620
comes you can take the chock away and
make the entrance larger so in this hive

0:20:33.620,0:20:38.450
you know the brood was at all stages as
uncap cells about larvae and eggs in

0:20:38.450,0:20:44.420
them and the other is capped brood so
that means that there’s going to be a

0:20:44.420,0:20:50.360
continuation of brood in this colony
going through winter because it’s on the

0:20:50.360,0:20:56.240
coast inland you’ve often find no
brood in the hive but the Queen still

0:20:56.240,0:21:00.650
leave she just stopped laying she
hibernates in which case the colony will

0:21:00.650,0:21:05.800
be docile because the Queen’s present
even if there’s no brood

0:21:08.660,0:21:13.830
so now I’m putting the colony back
together it’s important not to squash

0:21:13.830,0:21:19.250
any bees so you got to be careful what
you do

0:21:40.910,0:21:47.940
okay so now putting the colony back
together again the strap it doesn’t have

0:21:47.940,0:21:54.420
to be you know tight because it’s not
being shifted anywhere as long as it

0:21:54.420,0:22:00.210
holds together like that I was gonna
shift the colony I’d have it really

0:22:00.210,0:22:17.929
tight that’s to push really hard to get the strap tight

0:22:17.929,0:22:27.299
you

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