The Arctic Blast and Overwintering Honey bees

A brutal winter for honeybees and I am sure that other beekeepers are wondering what spring holds and we will all shortly take a tally of the carnage.  Part of beekeeping as any farmer of livestock is managing the population.  The recent weather will take its toll on the weaker populations of bees that may not been strong enough to survive the plunge in temperature.
The cold has been a northern beekeepers friend by keeping the Africanized genetics out of the local populations.  The cold also keep some predators in check such as the yellow jacket wasp.  Yellow jackets seem to quickly find weak hives robbing them out and even prey on the bees themselves for a protein source.  Small hive beetles have been working their way north and personally I am hoping the cold will perhaps put a good dent into that population.
I am convinced that survival when overwinter honey bees is essentially dependent on 2 things.  What I call critical mass or the size of the population which is needed to sustain warmth in a cluster.  The second is the amount of carbohydrates in a hive to support that mass or population for the duration of winter.
Feeding is essential and especially to the new beekeeper where bees have to use precious energy to draw out comb. In upstate New York the hot dry summers months are not friendly to bees and provide little or no sources of nectar.  As beekeepers we rob the bees of this precious energy source and we must replace it to get our bees through winter.  I am thinking perhaps I may need to run 3 deeps per hive.  Two deeps may not enough storage space for carbohydrates if I want to continue with this endeavor and if these winters are the new normal…

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