County Ag Report - Preparing a Beehive for Winter Part 2

Published: Oct. 28, 2022 at 11:37 AM EDT
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“We’re just keeping them high and dry. So, we make sure we do our entrance reducers, and we make sure our quilt boxes are on.”

Last week, Dana Drake, co-owner of Drake’s Hometown Honey, shared several steps he takes to prepare his beehives for Winter, including feeding the bees sugar-water and protecting them from condensation which can build up in the hive. The next step is to wrap the hive with felt paper.

“I don’t really like to take the strap off, because if you take the strap off, you might bump the box enough to let them out.”

We asked Drake how many bees there would be in the hive he was working on.

“There’s probably sixty thousand or so. They drop down in volume in the fall. In the middle of honey flow season, there’s close to eighty, ninety, one hundred thousand in a hive. And we have the honey boxes on here, so I mean this hive is this tall.”

As the outside of the hive is being prepared for the Winter, the bees are making some preparations of their own.

“This time of year the worker bees which are female bees, they kick the drones, which is the males out of the hive because they serve no purpose in the hive for survival. The queen is laying a Winter bee. A lot of people call it a fat bee. And all that bee does is it will vibrate its wing muscles and create heat inside the hive.”

When Drake is done wrapping the hive with felt paper, he takes another step to ensure that air will continue to circulate through the hive all winter long.”

“I’ll drill a hole about halfway up because what happens as winter goes on, inside the hive bees will perish and they’ll fall to the bottom, and they’ll clog that vent up in the bottom. So, you need circulation, so in order to make these vents work, air has to flow up through and out the vent.”

And after all the work that has gone into winterizing a hive, what would happen if it was opened too soon?

“So if you’re down to forty, forty-five degrees, you open up this hive, all that heat and all those brood that the queen is making in the Spring of the year will chill them and that will knock the population down.”

Brian Bouchard, NEWSSOURCE 8.