So, winter is upon us here in Wisconsin. What do beekeepers do during winter? The life of luxury would be nice, but not so fast! Beekeepers should be preparing for spring. Now is a good time to review your notes from the past season. Think about how things could have been done differently and make the notation. No notes, try to recall as much as possible and write it down now.
If there is snow, the beekeeper will need to check to assure the hive entrance is not buried. Bees need to be able to fly in and out during the winter for cleansing flights. Check to make sure the lid is still secure and the bees have access in and out.
Winter is also the month to take inventory of your equipment. See what you need going into the new bee season and get the equipment ordered. Look at what needs to be repaired and get those things fixed. It is also the time to order bees if you would like to start beekeeping, if you have lost any of your colonies or are looking to expand your apiary. Typically, all bees are ordered by March for delivery in April.
Education is also important during these cold months. Honey Bee Ware offers a Beginning and Advanced Beekeeping class. Education and networking with beekeepers is an important aspect of the hobby. It allows you to keep up on what is going on in the bee world — what diseases and issues could affect your bees and how to handle them.
As the temps start to rise, begin feeding your bees as early as possible. There is no food for your bees to forage on so it’s important. Sugar bricks and pollen patties are recommended to sustain your colony until it gets warm enough for them to forage. Sugar bricks are then replaced by syrup. Feeding stimulants help to get your bees to eat. Bees need carbs and protein, which are provided by the sugar brick, syrup and the pollen patty. On warm days, 50 degrees or warmer, it’s OK to prop the cover to check your pollen patty. This is a quick in and out inspection. Don’t remove any frames, any brood in the hive will be chilled thus hurting the colony strength.
Until next time, “bee” warm!