Getting Bees Ready for Winter

Reducing entrance size on one of my bee hive at Bluebird Gardens.

Getting Bees Ready for Winter

It's been a record warm Missouri November 2016. Usually by now I have all of my hives tucked in for winter, all of my plants in my garden and my hot cocoa stash refreshed. I am behind on getting all three done.

When I heard the weather forecaster call for below freezing temperatures by the weekend, I decided I had to make getting my bees ready for winter a priority. I can't do a last inspection, my bees have their wood hives nicely sealed with propolis and I don't want to break those seals.

Instead, I removed the frames on the edges to peek down inside and make sure there was nothing obviously amiss. I also refreshed my small hive beetle traps so on those days when temperatures warm up again, hopefully I can catch some of these sub-Sahara Africa pests that earlier this year caused havoc with some of my colonies.

To get ready for winter, I also made sure all of their hive entrances were reduced. I will reduce the entrances even more in the next couple of days to one bee-width holes but right now, several bees can easily get in and out of the hives.

 The feeding shim on top gives bees another entrance in case the bottom gets snow-covered and makes it easier for me to feed them mid-winter.

The feeding shim on top gives bees another entrance in case the bottom gets snow-covered and makes it easier for me to feed them mid-winter.

I also added my feeding shims to the top of the hives so that I can easily feed them if need be mid-winter.

The shims are about 2 inches wide with two little holes that give the hive an alternate entrance in case the bottom door is blocked with snow. I like to add the shims now so that when I need to feed them, I can do it quickly later.

I have one more step I will finish once the temperatures drop, I will wrap my hives in a black insulated material to help keep the wind from chilling the colony.

Hard to think about not seeing my bees now that cold weather is here. They are very much a part of my garden and the joy I feel when I am in it.

Charlotte