Category Archives: Guest post from Kent Williams

Winter Preparation, Guest Post from Kent Williams

Below is another guest post from Kent Williams, president of the Lake Barkley State Beekeepers Association in Western Kentucky, and of the Eastern Apiculture Society Master Beekeepers. A good beekeeper, all around nice guy, and good friend of mine. Kent always offers up good down to earth beekeeping advice. More posts by Kent.

Hello again, and welcome to the November edition of the LBBA newsletter. It does not seem possible that the holiday season is upon us, but it is. By now, the bees should be prepared for winter with ample food stores, majority of the bees (cluster) in the bottom box(es), supers of stored food above the cluster, and no supers full of empty comb above the cluster. For colonies that are low on food stores, the best option at this time of year is to feed solid feed, such as a patty or candy-board. If preparing solid feed for a colony, it is advisable to employ a philosophy of over-kill. Even for relatively small colonies, feed a patty or candy board the size of the top of the hive. Continue reading

Spring IS here – right??

Another guest post from Kent Williams. For more about Kent and to view his post from last month, see his February post.

Hello again, and welcome to the March edition of the LBBA newsletter. Spring IS here – right?? This year reminds me a lot of a spring four or five years ago. I remember very well counting yet-to-be-hatched chicks, thinking the year would be a banner year for honey and bee production. Corn was planted early that year, during the third week of March, and some fields were nearly 6 inches tall the week of Easter. The weather was near perfect for an early bloom, and some colonies had already worked into the first honey super by Easter. The subsequent change of events has since become known locally as the “Easter freeze.” Continue reading

The winter cluster of a honey bee colony, guest post from Kent Williams

A few days ago I received the most recent issue of Kent Williams’ Lake Barkley Beekeepers Association newsletter. This issue contained a very informative and well written account of the dynamics of the winter cluster of a honey bee colony. We’re almost to the time of year when I start getting the annual round of “why did my bees die” questions, and the answer always includes a discussion of the complexities of the winter cluster. Kent has graciously agreed to allow me to reprint his article in my column. We’ll jump right into his article here, but you can read more about Kent at the end of the column.

Hello again, and welcome to the February edition of the LBBA newsletter. The calendar may indicate winter, but the maple trees on our place – and the honeybees that are working the maple blooms – believe spring has arrived. Our weather in western KY sometimes seems to mimic Forrest Gump’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get. Having lived here virtually all of my 52 years, my advice to bees and beekeepers alike is to not put the long-handles into storage just yet. The warm weather we have enjoyed for much of January and the beginning of February has allowed the bees to keep a loose cluster and both move within the hive to access food-stores and take advantage of any efforts made by beekeepers to provide supplemental feed for the colony. The (supposedly) ideal temperature for an overwintering colony is 45 degrees f. At this temperature, the bees will remain in a loose, but solid cluster, which will move throughout the hive to access food stores. As temperatures drop, there is a corresponding constriction, or compaction of the cluster. Continue reading