Preparing for Winter
Preparation needs to begin at the end of summer after you have harvested your last honey frames. Your bees will be working on building up the hive population and storing any available feed in their stores. Remeber that they will need at least 50 - 60 lbs. of honey to survive through winter. Don't Harvest too Much!
As your queen continues to lay, you will want strong, healthy bees emergeing in late fall
to carry them through winter. This will not happen if you have not treated for Varroa Mites in late summer. The mites transmit viruses which remain after your mite treatment.
With time the virus levels drop but you need to have time after the treatment, under low mite and low virus conditions, for the colony to raise young healthy winter bees. Treat in late summer so they have the opportunity to raise healthy bees in the fall.
It's no surprise, nutrition can either help or hinder a colony.
If the colony is diseased, poor nutrition can amplify the symptoms,
but good nutrition can be the elixir needed to get them through. During the fall, nectar is scarce or non-existent. Bees will forage for what is out there but beekeepers need to provide a food source to prevent starving in the hive. Be sure the bees have ample honey or syrup stored and protein!
4 Great food supplements:
Moisture builds up with wet weather, curing of nectar, respiration of thousands of bees, and in other instances. This is a year round problem that must be addressed. Disease, fungi, and molds will flourish in moist environments, and can cause serious damage to brood and colony health.
Fondant. This is soft, pliable and can lay across your frames. A great sugar source that is easy for bees to consume.
Corn Syrup. Fill your hive top feeder with corn syrup and watch your bees flock to it. Mix in a feeding stimulant (such as Honey B Healthy or Amino B Booster) to help increase colony health.
Sugar Water. A home remedy that is great for bees to store for overwintering. Add in a feeding stimulant (such as Honey B Healthy or Amino B Booster) to help increase colony health.
Pollen Substitue. Either in dry or patty form, pollen provides the protein bees need for growth and development.
In winter, moisture is what will destroy a colony, not the cold temperatures.
A properly ventilated hive can decrease the amount of moisture that will be confined in the hive.
4 methods to help reduce moisture in the hive:
Propping up the top of your hive will allow the moisture in the hive to rise up and flow from the hive. We supply a screened inner cover that fits under the top of your hive. This will prop up the top, allowing enough room for moisture to escape and the screen will prevent the bees from leaving from the top of the hive. Beekeepers will use Popsicle sticks under the inner cover, offering the same functionality. If you do not prop the top of your hive open a little, have an upper entrance open, allowing some room for the moisture to escape.
Have a screened bottom board under your hive and leave it open during winter. A screened bottom board will allow enough airflow to move throughout the hive, reducing the amount of moisture. You might worry about the cold wind moving throughout the cluster but it is the moisture that causes the problems, not the cold temperatures.
Use an absorbent insulated wintering inner cover. We supply a wintering inner cover that uses Homasote, a 98% recycled content that provides the ideal solution to insulate the hive and mitigate moisture.
Providing a candy or fondant supply to your hive will also help absorb moisture. The candy or fondant will sit above your frames and as the moisture and heat rises, it will make the food more pliable and easier for the bees to consume.