Now is the time to check are you ready with Your Bees for long winter. You must help Your Honey Bees Prepare for Winter.
1. Getting your bees ready for winter – tips on winterizing your hive
It’s mid-October and we’ve already had our first trace of snow up in the very northern part of our home state of Minnesota. While there is likely still plenty of fall left, for those of us who live in the northern states, we all know that winter can decide to show up at any time. Are your bees ready for winter?
Once you’ve completed your fall inspection, it’s time to start thinking about winterizing your hives and preparing for the winter ahead. Note: these tips are designed to help those who live in northern, central and southern climates, and should just be used as guidelines. For the best results, you should contact a local beekeeper to determine what is best for the bees in your area.
Strong queen, healthy hives
Ensure you have a strong queen and a healthy brood pattern, which will be a bit smaller than normal. If your queen is nowhere to be found, or your brood pattern isn’t looking like it should, you may want to consider either combining your hive with another or requeening.
Are your bees ready for winter?
The inevitable winter chill has struck the great white North. Whether you are in Minnesota, Manhattan, or Mount Hood, the time of the harvest is coming to a close, and we all are beginning preparations for the colder, darker months ahead. But, what about the honeybees? How do they prepare for the season ahead?
Do honeybees hibernate or fly south with the birds and butterflies? Neither. Honeybees overwinter in their hive, generating warmth by gathering in a cluster and beating their wings to raise the temperature within the hive. The queen stays at the center, warm and protected by the colony surrounding her.
Can bees freeze to death? They can. The biggest culprit? Moisture. A properly ventilated hive is key to your colony surviving the winter. Excess condensation forms on the top of the hive and can drip down into the cluster, lowering the temperature and killing the bees.
Do they ever leave the hive in the winter?
On warmer days, bees will take short cleansing flights to eliminate waste from the hive…
Preparing for Winter in Northern, Central, and Southern Climates
Now that you’ve done your fall inspections (if you haven’t, now’s the time!), we’ll cover some more tips and techniques to set your bees up to survive this winter.
Please note: Any information or suggestions that we give for what to do in specific climates are really just general suggestions. You should consult a local beekeeper to determine what is best for bees in your location, as factors vary greatly depending on local temperature and humidity (and even the specific strain of your bees!).
Ensure That You Have a Strong Queen and Healthy Brood Pattern
Your hive needs a strong queen and a healthy brood pattern, which will be a bit smaller than normal, to survive the winter. If your queen is nowhere to be found, or your brood pattern isn’t looking like it should, you may want to consider either combining your hive with another or requeening….
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2. Preparing the bees for winter
Aim to complete your winter preparation by late September. Use our Winter Prep record card to keep track of your preparation. Don’t try to rely on your memory. These notes apply to hives that are not moved to the heather in August…
Mid August. Check that the colony has a laying queen. Look for eggs, larvae and sealed brood. If there is no queen, unite the colony to a queenright colony, or call for help. Your colony should have at least five deep frames of bees. I winter my hives on a brood and a half (or a double brood) and one part-filled super of honey, with no queen excluder.
Check the hive parts. Are they sound?
End of August. Remove any part-filled supers for re-fitting later. Check the weight of the hive by hefting, lifting one side from the stand. The hive should feel as if it is nailed to the hive stand. I leave all the honey in the brood box and half brood box for the bees.
Featured Image Photo Credit: Canva.com