Bees are extraordinary insects, and when one may reckon that beekeepers nurture and keep them solely for farming, they are responsible for maintaining order for the entire flora. The beekeeping season is most active from spring until the end of summer, and that’s when bees are most active. However, bees are also utterly active during the winter months, we just don’t see that with our bare eyes. It’s highly recommendable to look after bees attentively during cold months and help the queen look after her hive even better. Here are some useful tips for beekeeping through winter.
1. Perform the must-do winter preparation
By the end of the season, bees would stock up with honey so they could have food to survive the cold months. First, don’t extract a lot of honey and leave enough in the frames to ensure the colonies won’t die of starvation until the early spring. Next, monitor the hive entrance and brush off any dead bees, piled-up debris, or anything that could impede the animals to enter. Peek inside the hives to see if colonies are doing their job, and then try not to disturb them much afterward.
2. Try keeping bees in a pole barn
If you don’t wish to leave bee hives out in the open for predators like bears to get hold of them, you can try placing the hives in a pole barn during winter. Many beekeepers reported losing fewer colonies after placing the hives in an adequately insulated pole barn. Ensure there are no swallows, if you keep some other animals in the barn, then place the hives in the loft area and near a window.
Above all, it’s vital to insulate the barn properly to get a perfect distribution of hot and cold air within the barn. Learn about the type of insulating materials you would need for the barn so click here to discover more.
3. Provide extra food
Once you’ve found the right place for the bee hives, you need to provide extra food resources for beehives in need. Some colonies are low and as they cluster inside the hive, the honey they consume may not be enough. In this case, you must prepare extra food to help them keep warm and safe. You can make a simple sugar mixture such as candy boards made of sugar or fondant. This won’t cause any commotion or problem in the hive, what’s more, it would serve as extra food supplies and if they don’t need it, it won’t be any waste.
4. Amp up the hives
Those beekeepers who need to leave their hives outside in the harsh winter condition may need to additionally “winterize” the hives. It’s crucial to note that strong and healthy honey bee colonies with sufficient food reserves will surely survive the nasty wintry days, but some others may not. Perform a Varroa mite treatment in the late summer to try and get rid of this parasite before the cold days even approach. Only by killing the virus, you will have welcomed healthy bee colonies in the spring. Another way to prepare the hives for winter is to wrap them up in some basic insulating material, but this won’t make a huge difference as bees protect and warm themselves adequately.
5. Repair the dated equipment
Once you have ensured that the bees are well-fed and secure in their hives, there’s nothing much to be done with bees during winter. They will be in their safe winter cluster, warm and cozy in the hive, so you could then take some time to fix and update some beekeeping equipment. No matter if you do beekeeping as a hobby or a job, the winter months are the best for repairing stored equipment. Paint, sand, or mend the frames and store them, check the hive tool and smoker and buy a new one if necessary, etc.
Beekeeping is one of the most frugal and rewarding hobbies in the world. After you have implemented the above-mentioned wintry tips, know you have done your best as a beekeeper.