Fall isn't just about pumpkin spice lattes and leaf piles; it's the perfect time to get your hive in tip-top shape for winter. We're diving into everything from hive projects to keep your bees cozy, to the secret sauce to fall honey harvesting, that's is the bee's knees. So grab your bee suit and let's get buzzing!
The Golden Season:
Mastering Fall Beekeeping For A Thriving Hive
Welcome Beekeepers to 'The Golden Season!
1. Inspect for Pests and Diseases
Before you're stuck in winter's grip, make sure that you are throughly inspecting your hive. Right now is the most common time that pest can infect your bees, so checking regularly is the key to survivng this winter. Check for common pests like Varroa mites and hive beetles. Check out how to handle pest down below in our blog.
2. Ensure Ampled Food Storage
Honeybees need sufficient food reserves to make it through the winter. Generally, a strong colony will need 50-60 pounds of honey. If reserves are looking sparse, you'll need to take action. Think about feed option like pollen patties, feed for bees, and dry bee feed to help bees start storing.
3. Reduce Hive Entrances
A smaller entrance is easier to defend for your guard bees, especially as the colony's numbers naturally decrease. Entrance reducers is the key to a beehive survival. If you don't have one yet check out our Entrance Reducer today! This is great protection from mice, which can be a nuisace to the hive during winter. Get your entrance reducer today, and pair it together with our solid bottom board to ensure no mice or other vermin is entering your hives.
4. Consolidate the Hive
Bees generate heat by clustering together. Empty frames and boxes dissipate this heat, making the hive harder to warm. Consider consolidating your hive to help your bees maintain temperature more efficiently. This is a great time to see if you need to repair or replace any beekeeping gear for next spring.
5. Harvest Late Honey
If you haven't harvested honey, or you need to do another harvest make sure you get on top of that while the days are still warm. While fall's bounty can be rich, remember that your bees worked hard for that honey. Only harvest what's extra, always leaving enough reserves for the colony to feed on during winter.
6. Remove Harvesting Equipment
Extra equipment can make the hive harder to manage. Once you've done your final harvest, remove any unnecessary honey supers and queen excluders until spring. 6.
7. Winterize Beekeeping Gear
Cleaning your equipment prevents diseases from lingering and makes your first spring inspection a breeze. A simple wash and dry, followed by proper storage, can make a world of difference.
8. Requeen if Necessary
An aging or underperforming queen can spell disaster for winter survival. If your queen is more than two years old or showing signs of weakness, consider requeening in the fall.
9. Plan For Spring
Start thinking about if you want to add more hives to your apiary. This is the time some of our retailers start taking orders for the spring.
10. Winterize Beekeeping Gear
Cleaning your equipment prevents diseases from lingering and makes your first spring inspection a breeze. A simple wash and dry, followed by proper storage, can make a world of difference. Look into getting hive wraps, or any winter gear to help your hives make it through winter.
Tools To Get Started
1. Bee Suit and Gloves
Safety first! A full bee suit with a veil and gloves is non-negotiable. These protective layers not only keep stings at bay but also make you more confident as you inspect and handle your hive.
A smoker helps calm the bees and masks their pheromones, making hive inspections and maintenance less stressful—for both you and the bees. Make sure to keep it lit and puffing.
3. Hive Tool
This is the Swiss Army knife of beekeeping. From prying apart frames to scraping off excess propolis, this versatile tool is indispensable.
4. Hive Wrap
Think of hive wraps as winter jackets for your hive. These insulating wraps help maintain temperature inside the hive during the colder months, keeping your bees cozy and active.
5. Bee Brush
Bees tend to hang out in places where you need to work. A gentle sweep with a bee brush encourages them to move without harming them.
6. Feeders and Feed
Depending on the season and the natural availability of nectar, you may need to supplement your bees’ diet. Invest in a top notch feeder, and our Feed for Bees because it's essential for the hard times.
7. Pollen Patties
Pollen patties act as protein supplements for your bees, especially during late winter and early spring when natural pollen is scarce.
8. Dry Bee Feed
Dry feed like is a dry pollen substitute that can be useful, especially as a quick fix if you notice your hive’s food stores are running low.
9. Frame Gripper
Handling frames covered in bees and honey can be a slippery affair. Frame grippers give you a secure grip, making inspections and honey harvesting easier.
10. Hive Stands
Keeping the hive off the ground prevents moisture buildup and makes it harder for pests to enter the hive.