Since September 1st we have had 20 more days of rain and almost 100 mm more precipitation than is normal for this time of year in Vancouver. This means 20 less foraging days for our bees. September is usually a positive nectar and pollen (brood production) accumulation month for me and most urban Vancouver beekeepers and October is either neutral or negative depending on the weather. This year because of excessive rain I would say both months were negative and with mild temperatures active hive bees consumed more than usual winter food stores.
Although always an important winter beekeeping task this year it is especially important to monitor our hive food supplies. The Farmer's Almanac predicts that 4 of the next 5 months will have above average precipitation which means possibly less foraging in March and April which are prime starvation months for our bees. Also, this potential increased humidity will make in-hive moisture control essential (Moiture control).
You can monitor the food supply or weight in your hives by lifting the rear of the hive or using a baggage scale. Taking a quick peak in is also acceptable. For those not opposed to feeding in emergency a candyboard is a good solution. They are easy to make and adding dry, granulated sugar can make the difference between life and death. Here is some more information on winter feeding and natural beekeeper Michael Bush's approach to feeding.
Winter or broodless periods are the best time to treat your hives with oxalic acid for mite control. We are fortunate that because of our mild winters both the trickle and vapour methods can be used. Here is some good information from Randy Oliver on the use of oxalic acid.
Ian at B.C. Bee Supply is taking orders for April Nucs on overwintered queens and you can contact Lindsay at Urban Bee for March and April New Zealand bee packages.
I hope you and your bees stay warm and dryish. Bee well.