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Since I am a first year beekeeper, I have three questions I am hoping someone can help me with:

1. When do I put the mouse guards on the hives? I live near Chicago.

2. How long do I feed my hives? I harvested the honey on labor day and put the top feeders on after they cleaned the supers. Two hives have gone through 40 pounds of sugar in a 2 sugar to 1 water mix since then and the feeders are empty again today. It is getting a little expensive since they can clean a feeder dry in a day or two.

3. I bought plastic bottles from Dadant for my honey. Do I need to sterlize them or clean them in any way before I fill them? Or I can I use them straight out of the shipping box.

Thanks for the help.
 

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Mouse guards can be put on when you reduce the entrances. I have robber screens on my hives which also serve as mouse guards over the 4 inch entrance. These have been in place since the first part of August when I finished extracting.

Here in Southeastern Virginia it is recommended to leave at least 1 super of honey for the bees to overwinter on. That's 50-60 pounds. If you robbed your bees hard and there is no fall flow for them to build up additional stores then you'll want to feed them enough to survive the winter. For Chicago I would imagine more than a super would be needed.

We use the plastic jars as well as mason jars. I rinse everything in hot soapy water with some bleach, rinse again in clear water and then set the stuff up to dry, upside down, over paper towels. Honey has some antibacterial properties but I like to start out with a container that is known to be clean.

Good luck!

Pete0
Bena, VA
 

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Ditto on what pete said....

1. before it gets too cold. The mice start scouting out at night, and when the bees are consistently clustering they will stay and eventually probably kill the cluster.
I tried to add mouse guard and entrance reducer Saturday afternoon and apparently none could figure out how to get back in...they just clustered outside and eventually I took the reducers off and will try again in the evening sometime.

2. Feed until they have at least 80 lbs stored. This varies from place to place, so somebody in your area might be able to weigh in on that.

3. I too use hot soapy water followed by a clean rinse. I tried a few last year without washing, and they developed a strange crystalization pattern on the bottle related to static forces left over from the molding process, although heat does de-crystalize it. Best to wash IMO.

-rick
 
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