Anyone who knows me pretty well will tell you that I tend to re-think things I do. I guess its because I always want to do the right thing and not have negative consequences. But sometimes, no matter how hard I try, things happen anyway, so I re-think and then change my mind. And beekeeping is no exception. Freud would probably have a field day with me!
Several weeks ago I installed my mouse guard. I figured that with cooler weather here, now is the time to keep Ms. Mouse out of my hive, after all, she'll be looking for a place to nest for the winter, and a bee hive would be an ideal spot. All of the newsletters and information I read said fall is the time to those guards on, so being a newbie beekeeper, I followed the advice. But now I'm thinking I acted a little prematurely.
On Sunday, I go down to put some new syrup in the hive-top feeder and I saw that my bees were clogging up the holes in the mouse guard. They were in a clump on the front, something that I observed for the last couple of days which concerned me somewhat.
The first thing I noticed was that condensation had gathered on the inside of the outer cover. When I took the cover off, water dripped down into the feeder and the inner cover was somewhat damp too. So from my science days in school, I knew that the cool air outside...combined with the heat inside the hive...had caused the dampness above the feeder...and that probably came from a lack of air circulation.
Even though I have a screened bottom board...I feel like the mouse guard, which restricts mice from entering the hive...is probably restricting the air flow as well, and that's not good. I also noticed the other day that some mold had grown on the inside of the shallow super that covers the hive-top feeder. That comes from air restriction too.
The temperatures here have hit the 70s by day and the 50s at night. The lowest nighttime temperature so far is 48. I find it ironic that a mouse, no matter how bold she may be, is going to chance it and invade a hive full of bees. Maybe when it stays cold day and night, yeah maybe, but with the days still being warm and the nights cool, I don't think she's going to take the chance of being stung to death.
So anyway, I filled the feeder with more syrup and I removed the mouse guard for now. I am sure I'll put it back on pretty soon. And when I put it back on, to improve air flow inside the hive, I'll use the inner cover that has the popcicle stick risers. It makes a slight vent at the top of the hive and keep the air flow going through the winter. Supposedly it stops condensation from forming and dripping water on the bees through the winter.
My Mama always said it was okay to change my mind if the cause is right. And in this case, I think it was the right thing to do. I'll let you know when I put it back on and I may try to post some pictures of my inner cover with the popcicle stick risers so you can get an idea how it works.