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Preparations on the Verge of Winter

The last ten days or so have had a pretty regular rhythm. Feed the bees, block the entrances, and wrap the hives. We actually started blocking the entrances a few weeks ago. Once the nighttime temperatures start dropping into the fifties, the mice start looking for sheltered homes. Beekeeping equipment seems to serve them very nicely. Today we went to southern Iowa and visited a yard where three empty sets of bottoms and lids all had mouse nests recently built in them. Maybe they worked as good traps to keep them out of the actual hives. It's always annoying to put in the blocks and then go back in spring and discover that you trapped a mouse or two inside the hive. They really make a mess of the frames, chewing through the wax and woodware. Mostly, the bees look strong. I like to see 6-8 frames of bees in the cluster to consider them strong for winter. There are still a few hives with two boxes of bees. On the other hand, there are a few yards that have a number of hives in the 4-5 frame population range. Those are strong enough that they might survive, and the chance is good enough that I don't want to combine them. The weaker ones always make me nervous though. It was 76 degrees today--November 3. Winter didn't set in very early this year. Evidently a big change is coming in the next couple of days, but the fall has gone pretty well. With any luck this winter won't be as brutal as the last. Loading up the division board feeders with corn syrup. The syrup in the 2-gallon feeder buckets started to granulate for some reason this year--we've never had that problem before. With warm temperatures, it's safe to dump the cloudy syrup into the division boards.
  And then wrapping them up nice and cozy for the winter.

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