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Bee-Ginner's Guide

Welcome to the Bee-ginner's Guide Blog. Here we will go over topics and tips you might need as you go through your first year as a beekeeper.

Once the cold weather hits and temperatures start hovering around 50 degrees or below, you will want to avoid opening up your hive. As the temperatures start to drop the bees will begin to stop rearing brood and form a cluster. Opening the hive at this time could drastically adjust the internal hive temperature the honey bees have worked hard to maintain.

Even in the winter the bees will need to feed. It is highly recommended to start feeding your bees a 2:1 ratio sugar syrup NOW, especially if your area is experiencing a dearth. Any feed they receive during the Autumn does not only feed them presently, but they can store any excess in the hive that they can feed on at a later date. If you must feed during the winter, here are a few tips:

  • Feeding honey bees a liquid diet during the winter can cause issues by having the bees break cluster as well as potentially freezing. Once it gets too cold to provide sugar syrup, fondant is a great alternative feed. A soft, pliable sugar dough, fondant can be easily placed on top of the frames or wrapped in an empty frame with 8-mesh hardware cloth. Since fondant is a solid substance, the bees can easily walk upon it while feeding off it.

  • Hive Top Feeders are great ways to easily provide food during the winter without breaking into the hive. Using one of our wooden hive top feeders (8 Frame or 10 Frame) or our Plastic 10 Frame Hive Top Feeder to provide winter feed can be very useful. While in the summer and fall you can use these feeders to feed your bees sugar syrup, during the winter the feeding cavities can hold fondant slabs or sugar candy the bees can easily feed on while in cluster.

  • If you have a wintering inner cover (8 Frame or 10 Frame), you can fill it with a hardened sugar candy. Hive moisture, which usually is a problem in winter, softens the candy so the bees can easily feed off it and digest the sugar. This puts the feed at the top of the hive, right where the bees will need it when they exhaust their stored honey reserves. To create a hardened sugar candy:

  • Bring 7 lbs. of sugar, 1 lb. of water (2 cups), and 1 1/2 lbs. (about 1 1/8 cups) HFCS (or 2:1 sugar water) to a slow boil while stirring until candy consistency is reached about 220 to 230 degrees F. Take the candy off the heat and stir in a 1 lb. of pollen substitute with a whisk. Pour mixture deepest cavity of the wintering inner cover and allow to cool. A mason jar can be used to seal and cover the hole in the center and removed once the candy sets. Once the candy has hardened, place the inner cover onto the hive with the candy side down.

  • If you must enter your hive during the winter, make it as brief as possible and try and schedule it around the warmest days you can (preferably around 50 degrees or higher).