County Ag Report - Preparing a Beehive for Winter

Published: Oct. 21, 2022 at 11:07 AM EDT
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“The few steps that we take to get our bees through the winter actually start just as soon as we harvest the honey.”

Dana and Patti Drake started Drake’s Hometown Honey a decade ago and have been harvesting and selling honey ever since. From building their hives to spinning and bottling the honey, they have become experienced in every aspect of beekeeping. When the honey has been spun and Fall has arrived, Dana Drake visits the beehives to prepare them for the coming winter.

“After we harvest the honey, we start with feeding the bees with a two to one sugar, two sugars one water. And you can see we have here, we have a cage that the bees can climb up in through the bottom and we put our sugar water in here and the bees climb up and drink the sugar water. So, this goes on top of the hive, or underneath the lid, and the bees climb up and they drink all the sugar water and they put it back down in the hive.”

Drake says the sugar water is needed to help the bees survive the winter.

“These are our deeps and that’s where mainly the brood is located, and we actually put on an extra honey box so they can fill that whole thing right full of sugar water plus the honey they had before we fed them. They’ll start from the bottom and raise to the top and that will get them through the winter.

After the bees have fed on the sugar water, the box that held the water is removed and replaced with a “quilt box” that serves another purpose.

“It has a screen bottom on it, and on the bottom of the box there’s a three eighths space, and in that three eighths space is where the bees can travel through, and in the very top we have a little notch right here, and the bees can actually get out and that way they can do a cleansing flight.”

The “quilt box” also helps control condensation which can kill the bees.

“On all four sides we have a vent with a louver over the top to keep the weather out, and inside we put a Dixie cup and we cut a hole in the bottom of it so it acts like a chimney and we set that in here and then fill up the box with sawdust up to the bottom of the vents, That way, the condensation from inside the hive form being warm to cold will rise up and go up through the chimney and out through the vents.”

Next time, we’ll conclude our report on the winterization of a beehive and learn more about bee behavior.

Brian Bouchard, NEWSSOURCE 8.