Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Getting My Bees Ready To Winter

Busy as a bee
This time of year, I see a lot of discussion about candy boards, sugar bricks, quilt boxes and wrapping hives. I also see a lot of questions along the lines of "When should I start getting my hive ready for winter?"

For my location, the answer is both "You're too late" and "You're too early"

For me winter prep starts back in mid July. That's when I evaluate my hives, combine the stragglers and check to see who needs varroa mite treatment. In NW Ohio, mite treatment needs to be completed by August 1st in order to have couple of rounds of healthy brood for winter bees.

Towards the end of August, when the goldenrod peters out, I make sure everyone is up to their winter weight. That gives me a little buffer in case I need to feed the odd hive. The syrup is 2:1 (sugar:water) in order not to simulate brood rearing.

Meanwhile, the weather is doing most of the prep work - the shorter days, lack of nectar and cooler nights signal the bees to reduce the size of the brood nest, consolidate the cluster and propolize every nook and cranny.

There is not much that I do - I stack the empty supers in the barn, I make sure all the equipment is put away and organized. I bottle honey and make creamed honey.

Finally, in November, when flight days are far and few between, I'll put on the candy boards and some pieces of pink foam board on top. Then I wait till Spring.