I have 2 hives. Both were started from packages this spring and both did very well. My italians swarmed in early July, and my Saskatraz swarmed in august. I have generally gone into winter with 2 deep boxes. By generally I mean 2 years ago thats what I did and thats what my local beeks tell me is good. last year i lost my hive int he fall.
my italian hive is full to bursting. I would split them if it was earlier in the season. too late for that right? Is my main risk with them being so full that I’ll need to feed them all winter when they run out of their stores?
Yes, I wouldn’t split. If there is any chance you may have a late nectar flow, I might put a shallow super on the hive for a couple of weeks, just to give them space. Take it off when you start to see temps below the mid 50s or around mid-October (unless we get more funky unusually hot/cold weather!)
Your main risk is Varroa. Have you done mite counts? Are you willing to treat if needed, or are you going treatment-free?
To give you an idea, the main hive-killers for overwintering hives are in the following order:
Condensation dripping on clustered bees inside the hive
Other things (like Nosema)
I don’t need to worry about condensation in California, but if I kept bees in your climate, I would definitely consider putting a moisture quilt on the hive in October. For starvation, I have a hive scale. You can also use low-tech methods like “hefting” the hive - just try to lift one side of the hive. If it feels light, feed. If your temps are below the mid-50s, feed candy or pure solid granulated sugar - they won’t drink syrup once it gets cold. You may not need to feed all winter, you just have to keep assessing. Not a full inspection, but if you feed, see how fast they take it. If they take it fast, they will likely need more.
thanks dawn. i’ve never treated before, but was planning on counting this week and considering treating regardless of counts. i don’t think mites were the issue last year, but I don’t really konw for sure that they weren’t, so i’m a bit gunshy this year.
Thanks Mine are bursting too and I still have the supers on just for space until the weather cools off more and to see if the fall flow happens. The brood boxes are heavy with honey and brood and that makes me nervous too. Tons of baby bees drinking syrup up at an astonishing rate. The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Over wintering healthy bees for spring drama.