A while back, squarepeg suggested others should chronicle their
experiences in treatment-free beekeeping. After seeing his recent
post on winter preparation, I am reminded to post my own.
I only have a few years’ experience with little success so far. I've made
just about every mistake I could think of, and a few that I didn't. My
approach is a little different, so perhaps this will provide another view
on how to (and how not to) keep bees without treatment.
The emphasis this winter continuing into next season, will be on
insulating hives to allow the bees more control of their hive environment.
Each hive has bottom entrances with no ventilation on top. Once the weather
warms up, some of the notched inner covers will be flipped to provide top
ventilation. I may leave a couple of the covers in the closed position as long
as I dare, to see how the bees tolerate it. I plan to spend this winter building
20-30 medium boxes, adding 1" of insulation to the outside of each box.
These boxes will be used as supers, Lord willing.
All the bees I have right now have been acquired through trapped swarms.
I am attempting to get improved genetics by making splits off the hives
that winter successfully, and this spring one hive was re-queened with a
purchased, local “survivor” queen.
Going into this winter there are 3 polystyrene hives, two 1.5”-thick lumber
hives, and a ¾”-thick single box with ¾” rigid foam attached to the outside.
All hives are topped with 1”-2” of rigid foam under the inner covers. All
hives contain medium frames.
My goals are to keep bees without treatment, and honey production.