Podcasts continue to grow in popularity. People are spending about two hours each day following the wise musings of their favourite word-weavers. I heard that Joe Rogan signed with Spotify for $100,000,000 (though he’s locked in for ten years).
I rarely listen to Joe Rogan. He’s OK, I guess, but he doesn’t talk about bees. (I mostly listen to beecasts.) One of my favourites is PolliNation, hosted by ex-Calgarian Dr Andony Melathopoulos. Andony is one of the best bee presenters you’ll ever have a chance to meet. He works at Oregon State University and his podcast originates there.
You can catch Episode #156 of Pollination on your podcast provider’s app. This episode, Preparing hives for winter, is another great one. Andony meets Dr. Shelley Hoover in one of her research apiaries. Shelley has worked for Alberta Agriculture, been president of the Entomological Society of America, and is now the Apiculture and Pollination Scientist in the Department of Research and Innovation at the University of Lethbridge, in southern Alberta. Her research focuses on honey bee health, breeding, management, pest management, and nutrition, as well as canola pollination. She knows a lot about honey bees.
This week’s PolliNation podcast covers wintering from a northern prairie perspective. Shelley Hoover manages 95 hives across the border from Montana. Don’t miss this podcast. Among the topics:
Starvation is still a common cause of over-wintering colony death. (Especially among hobby urban beekeepers, where it ranks as the leading cause of honey bee mortality.)
Shelley gives her bees 20 litres (5 gallons) of 2:1 sugar syrup in the fall. At over 25 kg (60 pounds), that’s a lot. Feeding finishes by early October.
The bees are fed heavily in the fall so they don’t have to be fed in the spring. This reduces the chance of accidentally getting sugar into honey supers. Also, fall feeding is easier – it’s warmer and colonies have larger populations, so the feed is stored quickly.
She combines weak hives that would die over winter. All wintering hives have at least two deeps full of bees.
Dr. Hoover recognizes the importance of ventilation. Hives have multiple entrances, including upper ones. The alternative is, she says, wet dead bees.
Hives are wrapped with insulating material by mid-October and unwrapped in April or May.
Finally, listen to the podcast to find out why Shelley never drives next to a potato chip truck on Alberta highways.