This December your bees will start facing the harshest times of winter. December days will be cold, wet, and short. The nights seem even more harsher due to it being colder, wet, and being longer. With little to none brood to care for, the bees will be clustering inside the hive, on these cold days. Except on days that are above 50° F, in which some bees will be out doing cleansing flights.
BEGINNERS: For those starting out in beekeeping, this is a time of education and preparation. Learn all you can by connecting with local beekeeping clubs and associations as well as checking state and local laws in your area. We also suggest that you start prepping, and getting gear for your future beehives in the spring. One great option to start prepping and gearing up for the spring is our Backyard Beekeeping Kit
ESTABLISHED HIVES: In December, there's going to be little work to do with your hives. We also suggest not opening your hive during cold, or snowy days since this risks the bees dying, or making them angry. The only time you should be checking your hives would be after storms ( especially if there's strong wind ) this is to assure that nothing has blown away, or has gotten flipped over. The reason why having no tops, or inner covers on your hive can be harmful for the bees, since the bees will be open to the harsh elements. Another thing that a beekeeper should be checking for, is that the entrances are not blocked. Make sure to knock off any ice, snow, weeds, or anything that will be blocking the entrance.
Something that's interesting that happens during December is the winter solstice. When the winter solstice happens, this can signal the bees that it is time for the queen to start laying eggs. When brood increases, the hive will increase food consumption in which more energy is spent keeping the colony warm for winter. When intake of food increases it is vital for the beekeeper to check every now and then on the hive's food storage.
Estimate Time (30 min):
- Look around and make sure that your hive has a top, inner covers, and no boxes have been knocked over. If so, make sure to put everything back.
- Check under the lid to see if the hive cluster is at the top of the brood box.
- To check the food storage you can lift the box from the bottom to see if it feels light or heavy. Remember that December tends to be the time when hives can start running out of food storage.
- If the bees are short on food storage add pollen substitute as a feeding supplement.
- Make sure there is nothing blocking the hive entrance, if so clear it out of the way.