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10 critical steps to prepare your bees for winter

September 22, 2014

A Critical Checklist In Preparing Your Hives For Winter

What separates beekeepers is their attention to detail.  You can quickly tell if a beekeeper is going to be successful in the honey business based on their attention to small, ever-so-slight nuances that need to be done.  You'll notice the beekeeper that has all the frames lined up with equal spacing, or the special marks that designate the front and back of a frame, super, and inner cover.  These little details are important.  Of major importance for the beekeeper is the preparation for winter.  That being said, it is important to take care of a few higher order items with your bees as we get into the month of October in the midwest. 

1. Check your hives and make sure you have a laying queen.  You should have some brood in your hive.

2. Check the size of your colony and remove any supers you have added that didn’t get filled. If you have some frames that have honey stores on them, simple set the frames next to the hive for a day or two and let the bees clean them and store the honey in the remaining space. 

3. Check the amount of honey your hive has stored.  If your deeps are light, you need to start feeding your bees heavy syrup.

4. Reduce your hive entrances.  It is that time of year when mice and other unwanted critters are looking for a nice winter home. 

5. Clean the area around your hives.  Don’t allow weeds and piles to become perfect walkways for critters to visit your hives.

6. Make sure you have an inner cover in your hive to add a little insulation.

7. Secure your outer cover (lid).  Nothing can be more devastating than the exposure of the entire hive to the elements during winter.

8.  If you have an open field or unobstructed area for your bees, you may want to consider a wind break to keep winds from whipping through the hives ventilation areas.

9. Maximize your sun exposure by turning your hives to face the southern sun

10. Keep a journal of what you did to winterize your hives.  If something works well or needs changed you will know when and what you did next year.