Beekeeping in winter gets even more difficult if you’re just starting out. Truly. there isn’t a season that’s harder on beekeepers – both hobbyists and professionals – than winter itself. It doesn’t help that you become really anxious that your bees won’t survive the coldest season, either.
Still, you do have power in your hands, not only to limit the damage, but more importantly to optimize the place you and your bees are at. This makes the winter season much easier to deal with and ultimately causes you less stress over the short term and long term so you can work on your bees better. Best of all, following these tips increases the chances of your bees staying alive throughout the whole winter so they’ll be alive and booming next season.
Follow these excellent tips to make your budding or veteran beekeeping career a breeze next winter:
1. Keep your hives wrapped up.
Covering your bees in wrapping material is essential. This makes sure that the bees not only get all the warmth they need, but also have high quality access to air to breathe from.
Tarpaper is what works best for beekeeping, and the way you wrap your beehives with tarpaper is to staple this stuff to the outside. You should check that the entrances have large enough openings for the bees to breathe but not to leave. There are specialized and commercially produced wrappings for beehives, but we’re recommending tarpaper because of its accessibility.
2. Avoid taking out the frames for the purposes of checking.
During the winter season, almost all of the time, it will simply be too cold to even think to risk exposing your bees to the chilling and freezing air. Checking the bees should be something you do as an extreme last resort.
The best thing to do is to just let the bees be, and leave them to their own devices. You’ve done a great deal of work and expended a huge amount of effort to prepare the bees for the cold winter before this, and now the bees must do their part and keep themselves alive through the next few months. Trust and believe in your human preparation and the bees and nature to know and do what they do best.
3. Carry each and every bee hive to get a feel for its weight
You should carry each bee hive to get a feel for its weight and how heavy you can expect them to be. Closely examine and inspect the bees often when winter comes, but at a distance outside the wrapping. You should have a good, general idea of how much each of your bee hives weigh. The minimum weight they should be at is more than 70 pounds (32 kilograms), since that number only considers the honey saved up. This weight and any above it is what will keep the bees kicking until the end of winter.
If you know of any other steps to take beforehand as part of the preparations, do them now and don’t wait until the last minute. Any hives that are lighter than 70 pounds (32 kilograms) should be specially marked, so you can prioritize them and feed them first in the first week after winter’s end.
Bring all your tools and equipment that are related to beekeeping for a good cleaning session, and make sure that each and every one is sparkling clean and more than ready for the coming winter season.
Make sure that the tools made out of wood are completely clear of propolis and wax. A great way to do this is to mix water and washing soda together and to use your fresh cleansing “brew” to thoroughly purge the wax and other undesirable stuck material out.
Sterilize the brood combs, especially the ones that have aged for a good long time. Bring out the frames and boxes and leave them in a safe spot for one week to air them out before you even use them, and long before the cold season comes. Taking these steps and precaution will eliminate any existing and potential bee pests.
5. Get all your tools and equipment arranged and ready to go.
List all the tools and equipment you have for your beekeeping activities. Next up is to list the things you’ll need or feel will improve the quality of your venture and preparation, and then go on down to the brick-and-mortar supply stores dedicated to beekeeping. You can place an order for the ones you’re missing online.
You can also just go online. Keep in mind though, beekeeping stores out there will have their hands full especially during the spring season, so factor in delayed shipping or delivery that’s slower than usual.
If you want or need to get more hands-on and match parts and assemble the equipment yourself, this is the time that you must absolutely do it, well ahead of next winter.
6. If you need to increase or replenish your supply of bees, you can put an order down for that too.
The many months of the year minus those for winter is the most advantageous time to place an order for bees online and expect them to arrive on your doorstep shortly. You have to account for the bee shortages that will happen a lot during the first weeks of spring.
7. Collect the honey and beeswax that won’t go toward your preparation into special containers.
You can reuse beeswax and honey not allotted for winter preparations, since there are people out there who’ll find them useful and would love to have them and will be willing to pay for them.
8. Become a member of beekeeping clubs near you.
In addition to perusing BeeKeepClub.com, keep in touch with beekeepers near where you live. This might even be the greatest thing you will ever do for your budding beekeeper activities. Join in on the learning and hands-on get-together events when they come up. Having people who love and practice the same thing you do, beekeeping, will keep you motivated to maintain your bees and inspire you to take your beekeeping to the next level.
Remember that patience is a virtue. It’s something that will not only make your beekeeping hobby a much better experience, but it will also make your life more positive and enjoyable than before.
That’s a wrap! Remember to apply each these steps thoroughly. It will be way better if you can follow them all, but putting as many as possible of these tips into your beekeeping practice will make your preparations, and even the winter season itself, a much more amazing journey and experience than you’d have ever expected at first!