Good beekeeping involves planning for two or three seasons ahead, according to Michael Wilson, a bee researcher at the University of Tennessee.

Wilson spoke to the November meeting of the Blount County Beekeepers Association on Nov. 10 on “overwintering” and said that any plans a beekeeper has for overwintering bees should start in the spring of the year. Now is the time to plan for spring and summer.

Michael Wilson at RosecombApiaries

Michael Wilson at RosecombApiaries

Wilson also made the following points during his talk:

  • As winter approaches, it is best to feed solid food, such as a mixture of sugar with small amounts of water. Because we experience warm days in November and even December, sugar water can possibly ferment in the hive even this late in the year.
  • Don’t overfeed. Hives can become “honey-bound;” that is, they will fill all the cells with honey, and the queen will have no place to lay eggs.
  • Much of the research about good beekeeping practices will have to be done by beekeepers. “It’s hard for us (in schools of agriculture) to get money to do that.” However, according to Wilson, through the Bee Informed Partnership (beeinformed.org) Universities and the USDA work to better enable beekeepers to evaluate their beekeeping practices so they can make better management decisions based on objective measures in their own apiaries and comparisons among other beekeepers.
  • New techniques and equipment are being developed for monitoring what is going on in the hive. He referred to SolutionBee and Arina, which produce hive monitoring equipment

Wilson’s website is RosecombApiaries.com.

Key words: bees, honeybees, beehives, overwintering bees, Michael Wilson, UT Institute of Agriculture, honey-bound hives, research on beekeeping, Blount County Beekeepers Association, SolutionBee, Arnia

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