Preparing your hives for winter could make the difference between a great spring liftoff and a poor start over, so it is very important to do it right.
The process depends on your location, however there are some things that are the same wherever you live. Here is the complete checklist:
- Harvest: The last autumn harvest is highlighted by the priority to the hive. We harvest only the excess honey and we leave enough for the beehive to survive over winder.
- Pollen: We transport the hives to of bees to pollen rich location in order stimulate new brood production. The bees that will spawn by the end of autumn will take care of the beehive during winter, so they should be as young and strong as possible.
- Stimulating feeding: In order to assist with the development of new brood production, we can add a small amount of syrup (150 - 200 ml) daily for 7 days. This, together with the pollen, will greatly boost the production of new healthy brood.
Pro tip: In order to avoid opening the lid and add syrup daily, you can use the Triple Top Inner Feeder with stimulating power tray (SKU: 950-0061) so the bees will consume the syrup slowly.
- Consolidation: Tough decisions are made to kill queen bees and to combine hives. It is preferable to have a few but strong bees, rather than too many, which perish during winter. Large hives have the advantage of conserving consumption, successful overwintering, and advanced growth rate during the next spring.
Pro tip: Alternatively, we could do a Condensing of hives, as described later in this article.
- Varroa preventative treatment: Monitoring for Varroa, and threshold numbers, is essential to every bee keeper who cares about the well being of their hives. According to an article by Phil Craft from beeculture.com, you should treat your bees during:
Spring – treat if more than 1 mite per 100 bees
Late Summer – early Fall – treat if more than four mites per 100
- Condensing of hives. Remove the honeycombs that bees do not use with emphasis on the empty ones. Of course we leave the ones that contain brood or food. If we use a Technosetbee hive, we can also divide the hive into two sections, using a 2X5 Frame - Nucleus Development KIT and place two different colonies in one hive for the winter (SKU: 950-0026). If one of the colonies is smaller than the other, you can use the Beehive with 6+3 frame KIT (SKU: 950-0011.63), which divides the hive in two uneven section, one of 6 frames and one of 3 frames. You can even divide the hive into three sections, using the 3X3 Frame - Queen Development KIT and have three different colonies overwinter in one hive (SKU: 950-0025).
- Check the honey stores: If your hives are too light, you need to start feeding your bees.
- Insulation: The beehive should be in a good Insulated environment so that it preserves the warm air and maintains a constant temperature conserving energy.
- Ventilation: Air should be able to come in through the bottom and out through the top. In Technosetbee hives you can use the Hive Cover Vented - Twin Wall Technology. Anti Varroa Bottom Board is also essential, in order to create a good hive ventilation.
- Controlled entrance: In the preparation for overwintering, we can place the winter doors that control the entrance and discourage mice and other small creatures who are looking for hiding places during winter.
Pro tip: All Technsetbee hives come with controlled entrance door that helps controlling access, especially during winter.
- Clean up: Remove weedy vegetation from the base of the hive. Vegetation is a convenient hiding place for creatures who may want to move into the hive and it can be used like an entrance ramp or stepladder.