Sunday was a nice fall day by Maine standards; 65 degrees and calm, the sun hidden behind thin clouds and a few flowers still blooming. Now is the time to feed the hives up – while the temperature is still warm enough for the bees to freely move around and store the sugar in the hive body.
I use BeeMax Polystyrene hive top feeders. They’re about $20, weigh 8 lbs and are practically indestructible. Betterbee suggests painting the exterior with the same latex paint you’re using on wooden ware. The bees are protected from the bulk of the syrup by a plexiglass sheet at one end of the box and I find this also protects the hive from cold drafts on the late fall days when I’m opening the top to add more syrup.
Use a two-to-one mix of water to sugar for the fall feeding. Try to keep the box from running low – evidently a wax and wane of food can encourage the queen to produce new brood just at the time the hive should be tapering off for the long winter ahead. Here is a close up of the box with the plexi shield in place and about a gallon (one batch in my stew pot) of sugar syrup.
The asters are the last full crop of flowers we’ll have for 2010 – a beautiful conclusion.