Fall Beehive Survival Steps

Urban Farm Lifestyle

  Healthy Sustainable Lifestyle

Let It BEE Fall!

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.



David Proctor

Urban Farmer

Urban Farmer










We may not live on a farm, but we can grow where we live.


Fall Beehive Survival Steps

                                    by David Proctor

October 8, 2015

Published Weekly

Urban Farm Lifestyle Magazine

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.

honey comb
                        Honey Comb

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

Mouse Guards

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 which may not keep out a determined mouse.

Enough Food

The bees will need about 60 pounds of honey store 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 broodnest and above the broodnest. The broodnest 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.

Colony tilted
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 few fence post.

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 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 keeping themselves warm escape.

Feeders removed

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.



                                                            Burnley Farm Apiary

Screened bottom board cover replace inside

Replace the board that covers the screened bottom board.  To improve ventilation, some beekeepers leave the back third or so of the screen exposed ( by using a shorter boad).

This increases the opportunity for ventilation as the warm internal air draws fresh air up from the outside.  If you do this, you must enclose the space between the screen and the ground below so you don’t get wind and blowing snow entering from below. This is where you need to place the mouse guards.

You should be able to sit back and take a break from the chores now.  In the winter months to come, you will need to check on the hive to be sure that the bees are not all in the top box, indicating that they are about out of food. If so, do an emergency feeding.

If they are in the lower box, the bees are probably doing all right.[Flottum]



 Preparing a Honey Bee Hive for Fall or Winter


Check It Out!

by Lauri Calloway


Honey Pumpkin Bread

I have prepared many loaves of sweet bread over the years…pumpkin, banana, blueberry, apple and zucchini to name a few. They were all delicious. And…quite sweet. Most of these recipes call for nearly two cups of sugar, either brown or granulated, or both. So, when I saw a recipe for honey pumpkin bread on the website honey.com, I was intrigued. Honey is the only sweetener used in this recipe.

Warning: If you like your pumpkin bread to be really sweet, this is not the recipe for you. However, if you want a tasty alternative using only honey as a sweetener… no sugar added, with the lovely flavor of spices, pumpkin and honey, give this a try!

I prepared this recipe with some modifications. You can find the original on honey.com.

Honey Pumpkin Bread

1/2 cup (one stick) unsalted butter
11/2 cups honey
1 15 oz. can solid-pack pumpkin
4 eggs
4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
21/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or spray with vegetable oil spray, two 9x5x3 inch loaf pans.

Cream softened butter and honey. Add the canned pumpkin and mix. Mix in eggs, one at a time, until well-incorporated.

Sift dry ingredients together and stir into the above mixture. Mix well. Stir in walnuts, if desired.

Divide batter equally into two loaf pans. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Insert knife into loaf near the end of the baking time. If it comes out clean, the loaf is done.

Allow loaves to cool about 10 minutes in the loaf pans, then take them out of the pans and cool on a wire rack.

Cut bread into 2 inch slices, and serve with whipped cream sprinkled with cinnamon, if desired.
pumpkin pie reciepe honey pumpkin pie honey recipe pumpkin pie no sugar pumpkin pie




This is my reference book for beekeeping.  If you would like to read more, click on the amazon link.




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.

N.p., n.d. Web.

“Seasonal Cycles of Activities in Colonies.” MAAREC Mid Atlantic Apiculture Research Extension Consortium RSS. N.p., 07 June 2010. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.

“USDA.” – Beesource Beekeeping. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Oct. 2015.


Quick Tips

by Lauri Calloway


  • Make sure to soften the butter at room temperature.
  • You may want to add an additional 1/2 cup honey if you like the bread sweeter.
  • Dried fruit or raisins could also be added with, or instead of, walnuts
  • Make certain loaf pans are greased or coated well with the vegetable or canola oil spray
  • Check on your loaves while they are baking…ovens vary in temperature, so the bread may need more or less baking time.



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