When we think of honey bees, our thoughts go to spring flowers and blooms with honey bees flying back and forth from flower to flower. In the fall going into winter is the best time to prepare for spring and keep your bee colony healthy and thriving.
Fall And Winter Beehive Survival Steps
by David Proctor
October 12, 2023
Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine Published Weekly
Fall Beehive Survival Steps
With your last honey extraction, put the supers or frames you extracted back on the colony and let the bees reclaim the sticky bits left behind.
After a day or two, leaving the cleaned frames in the super, remove the whole super used for storing surplus, honey.
This leaves the three brood boxes, where your bees will spend the next few months.
Follow these (9) steps to prepare your beehive for winter so your bee colony will be ready for spring.
Fall and Winter Management
- Mouse guards in place
- Enough good food
- All medications removed
- Colony tilted
- Windbreak in place
- Inner cover propped up
- Outer cover secure with weight on top
- Feeders removed
- Screened bottom board cover replace inside
Be sure mouse guards are in place.
The expandable, metal types with holes rather than a slot are by far the best.
The wood guards have slots that may not keep out a determined mouse.
The bees will need about 60 pounds of honey stored for the winter.
If the amount is insufficient, a sugar syrup mix will need to be prepared for the hive.
Mix a thick 1:1 syrup – one part sugar to one part water.
The thick syrup does not induce a build-up but rather storing behavior from the bees.
Measure by the amount of sugar used.
When finished feeding, the stored food should be at the sides of the brood nest and above the brood nest.
The brood nest should be mostly in the bottom two boxes.
Honey should be in the outer two frames, plus some in the frames next to the outside frames.
The top box should be almost all stored honey.
You will need to monitor this during the winter.
If the bees are moving to the top they are running out of food.
All medications removed
Since Varroa mites are being monitored all through the summer, you may not need any treatments in the fall.
The mites will be easier to spot since the colony will become smaller going into fall and winter.
If you do need to treat, use formic acid treatment.
It will knock down adult mites and will damage the mites in cells also.
Do not forget to check for diseases.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to tilt your colony forward just a bit by raising the back about an inch.
A one-inch thick board works well.
The colony should have this forward slant so that melting snow or winter rains don’t run into the colony and collect on the bottom board.
Windbreak in place
If your colony doesn’t have a good windbreak, you can build a temporary one to help.
A stack of straw bales on the windward side is one way, as is a temporary fence of horticultural burlap and a few fence posts. Inner cover propped up & outer cover secured
Turn the inner cover so the flat side is up.
Then, between the inner cover and the edge of the top super, place a pencil or any block of material that raises the inner cover about 3/8th of an inch.
Replace the inner cover and the cover over that one when complete.
Add a brick to hold the cover in place for those windy winter days.
This will help with ventilation, which lets carbon dioxide and the warm moist air from the bees escape and helps keep them warm.
By late fall, at least a full month before winter arrives according to the calendar, treatments should be complete and all assistance activities should be over.
Check It Out!
Flottum, Kim. The Backyard Beekeeper: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print._12 Oct 2023.
N.p., n.d. Web.
http://health.usnews.com/health-news/health-wellness/articles/2015/06/23/why-joining-the-urban-agriculture-movement-will-make-you-healthier_12 Oct 2023.
“Seasonal Cycles of Activities in Colonies.” MAAREC Mid Atlantic Apiculture Research Extension Consortium RSS. N.p., 07 June 2010.
12 Oct 2023.
“USDA.” – Beesource Beekeeping. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Oct 2023.