At this point in the beekeeping season, you are likely spending time making sure your hives are in good shape heading into winter. Sometimes for me, winters just feel like a waiting game to see if my hives make it.
This post outlines some ways you can stay busy and keep your mind off wondering how the bees are doing.
DETERMINE CAUSE OF DEADOUTS
How many hives did you lose over the summer? What caused those losses? What steps can be taken to improve survival rate? These are all important questions to ask at the end of a season. To improve in beekeeping, we need to evaluate our mistakes and figure out how those could be corrected. Sure, natural occurrences and uncontrollable factors are sometimes the cause, but identifying areas of improvement means better success in the future.
REVIEW HIVE RECORDS
We all agree that it’s important to keep records on your hive management, but I never hear anyone talk about what to do with your records once the season’s over. Right now is a great time to organize your notes and look for some insights: what areas of hive management can I improve on? If you don’t already, consider storing your records digitally so you can quickly refer back to past seasons’ data. Microsoft Excel is easy to learn and it can be a really powerful tool for learning from your records.
VISUALIZE HIVE RECORD DATA
If you’ve done a good job keeping your records organized, you can use Excel to create a “scorecard” to summarize the season. Boiling the entire year down to a few key statistics is a great way to evaluate your success and compare your results to past seasons. Your scorecard can be something as simple as this:
The more details you include, the better. If you know that most of your August dead outs came from one bee yard, you may want to move those hives to another site next spring.
If you know that 15 out of 17 July dead outs were caused by wax moth infestation, set a reminder to make some traps next June and find a place to store your empty supers where they’re safe from wax moths.
EVALUATE YOUR SEASON
Lastly, see how well you reached your targets this season! Was your season successful all around? In need of improvement in certain areas?
Compare your scorecard with the goals you set at the beginning of the season; which ones you achieved and which ones fell short, and see if you are on track to meet your long term goals.
Accomplishing these tasks over the winter season will help you be more prepared leading into next year and closer to your long term goals!