Prepping the Bees for Winter

Grad school has finally slowed down enough that I can update my backlogged posts!

It is that time of year once again to start prepping the bees for the cold winter months. It is important to remember that leaving bees to fend for themselves is ultimately giving them a death sentence.

The first step in prepping bees for the winter is doing a large check on each hive right before the temperature changes. At this point you want to take them down to the brood boxes, meaning removing any lingering supers. You also want to check for hive strength (this predicts how well a hive can keep itself warm during the winter and still be able to reach their honey and pollen stores), and how many frames of storage they have accumulated. Feeding will definitely be crucial during the winter downtime but this will determine if you need to add supplemental feeding before the winter hits as well.

We performed our hive checks a little while ago. We had lost two of our ten hives, bringing us down to eight. One of them was our weakest hive that we were already expecting to lose. The second was a surprise, as the queen was one of our best layers and the hive had been performing well. We think she may have swarmed soon after our last hive check. That’s unfortunate. Other than that our hives are looking really good. In the next week we will be feeding the bees fondant (not the same fondant that goes on cakes, but still a sugar based paste that is used to feed bees) to give them a sugar boost to get them through the winter.

I hope you have enjoyed our bees! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

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