We have begun the work of readying the bees for winter. This weekend the hive-top feeders of sugar syrup were removed and entrance reducers fitted into place.
An "entrance reducer" is just what the name implies; it is a piece of wood with slots carved which will allow the bees in and out, but also help block the wind and snow from blowing into the hive. During the cold winter, the bees do not venture out much so do not need the full opening across the width of the hive which they enjoy during the summer.The honey is selling well at Mrs. Pugsley's Emporium in Amherst and many new customers have been in touch to say how much more they like the taste of the natural honey compared to what they are used to from the grocery store shelf. I expect it's the same difference in taste between packaged cookies and homemade - no comparison! The honey is just as it comes from the hives - it is not heated or treated in any way. Because of that, it will "cream" naturally on it's own as it sits. Gillian H. tells me that her husband likes his liquid, so he keeps the jar on top of the refrigerator. It is just warm enough up there to keep it runny, but not hot enough to destroy the natural enzymes in the honey. It also doesn't use up any extra energy, or create more work. What a great tip!
Next weekend we will begin wrapping and insulating the hives with Styrofoam and tar paper. Then these beekeepers get a break from bee-duty until early spring!