Preparing Honeybee Hives for Winter

| 11/10/2015 4:10:00 PM

Tags: honeybees, preparing hives for winter, Julia Miller, Illinois,

Each winter since keeping bees at Five Feline Farm, we have experienced some winter loss. So every year we work toward improving the chance all hives will winter over by implementing change in our practice.

It is a process to incorporate learning from others and finding what works best for us. Most are minor tweaks; hopefully just enough to make a difference.

Start in Summer

Really? Start planning for winter in June and July?


It is crucial for the bees to store enough honey for their own needs. This year we moved our honey harvest to a month earlier. We put supers on the hives in early June, putting harvest in July and August. The last few years we had waited until July to place the supers, then found ourselves harvesting in late September. In our climate, this was not working and our bees did not have enough honey and pollen stored in the brood boxes. The bees need some of the last nectar flows to make honey for themselves. 

Early Fall Preparations

Even though Goldenrod makes a prized and distinctively flavored honey (see my Weed to Wonderful post), all of our honey supers have been removed before this late plentiful bloom. The bees do not have supers available for storage, so are packing in nectar and pollen for their own reserves.

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