Keep your Bees Happy, Heavy and Healthy this Winter!
You happily tend to your bees all Spring and Summer. The days are long, temperatures are comfortable and your bees are buzzingly going about their business and bringing back all of nature’s plentiful bounty. The cold doldrums of Winter are the furthest thing from your mind.
Then one day it happens, the nights are chillier and the days are noticeably shorter. As a new beekeeper your thoughts quickly turn to the upcoming Winter. Most beekeepers begin to worry, will my bees make it through alive to Spring?
While nothing is certain, if you respect the 3 H’s, your bees stand the best chances of greeting you alive and healthy the following Spring.
- Make sure your bees are housed in solid equipment. No cracks or gaps
- Ensure proper ventilation by providing both an upper and lower entrance
- Reduce lower entrance and protect with a mouse guard to keep rodents out
- Wrap hives properly to help them retain heat
- Give them only as much room as they can handle, if the colony is less than 6 frames of bees overwinter in a single deep
- Feed! Feed! Feed!
- Start feeding heavy syrup (2:1 sugar to water by weight) as soon as your Fall honey is off
- Colonies should weigh at minimum 90lbs as a single or 120lbs as a double going into winter
- Even if you didn’t harvest honey off your hive, feed anyway
- Feed until they stop taking it and the hive is not easy to lift due to weight
- Remember: Spring feeding really starts in the Fall
- Colonies should be nice and strong with at least 6+ frames of bees
- If colonies are small, it should be by design (IE. a double nuc)
- Small colonies should be investigated further to see what the cause is
- Varroa levels should have been monitored and managed all season long to keep them from reaching harmful thresholds
- Queens should be young and vigorous
- No other signs of disease should be present