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.
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.