What The Heck is an Eke?!
Beekeepers seem to love their lingo! All kinds of seemingly code words like "deeps", "singles", "doubles" or "nucs" to the infamous "Eke". Just what is an eke anyway, and what does it have to do with beekeeping?
In our opinion, an eke is an invaluable tool in the beekeepers arsenal when it comes to Winter supplies. Fancy code words aside, an eke is simply a spacer rim. It is mostly used during the winter months and is placed directly on top of the upper most brood box and the inner cover goes above and on top of the eke itself.
At NBee Gold, we use ekes on all of our colonies as part of our Winter configuration. These rims have an entrance hole in them and provide our colonies with their upper entrances for Winter and also serve as a source of ventilation. The main reason we use the spacers is not just to provide an upper entrance, but to allow space between the inner covers and the top bars so we can place a 6 lb block of fondant on the hives as extra food insurance for the long cold Winter.
Although honey bees should be fed plenty of syrup going into Fall before Winter, sometime's they may burn through their stores a little quicker than usual. Having fondant at the ready immediately above the cluster is a great way to ensure that they will have something else to eat should they find their cupboards a bit bare during the coldest parts of the year.
Having the ekes in place over the Winter also make Spring time feeding easy when the temperatures are too cold for syrup. You can simply crack the inner cover and already have the needed space to pour in granulated sugar on old newspaper on the top bars or place more fondant if the hives are very light and emergency Spring feed is needed.
Our only piece of advice when it comes to using these ekes is that you remove them in the Spring as soon as weather is consistently warm enough to begin light syrup feeding. Since these rims add an additional couple of inches of space between the top bars and inner cover, the honey bees will begin filling that space with rogue comb when the weather is warmer and syrup is flowing. So save yourself the hassle of having to clean up a mess like that and remove the eke before syrup feeding starts!