It’s practically winter and hopefully your hive has given you enough honey to hold you over till next year. Now as May approaches we must prepare the hive so it can make it through winter in a strong and healthy condition and be ready for next spring. This is a critical time to prepare your hive for the cooler months and if the right steps aren’t taken, you may be leave your hive vulnerable to pests and without enough food. Hives are often lost over winter and the usual reason is a lack of food.

Hive in Snow ImageHere are a few easy steps to make sure your hive is ready for winter:
• Assess how much honey the hive has stored. Two or three full frames of honey are needed though this could be spread over more than three frames.
• Look for healthy brood and check the hive is disease-free. Follow this link for a fuller explanation on pests and disease – Pests and Diseases of Bees.
• Reduce the hive to one or two levels depending on the strength of the hive; this allows the bees to control the temperature better and also to keep out other pests more easily.
• Consider keeping a few capped frames of honey that you have collected and set aside to give back to the bees later in winter.
• Consider also feeding the bees, with a sugar syrup or sugar crystals, if they do not have sufficient honey stored and forage is not adequate. Various feeder types are available at the Bee Sustainable shop.

If a hive is weak it’s possible to combine hives. Follow this link for advice on how to do this. Combining hives.

The NSW department of Primary Industry has an excellent fact sheet available online on wintering hives.

Be prepared to check your hive again in late May or early June to make sure everything is on track. Flying activity can tell you a lot about what’s going on in the hive. Fuller advice on winter management will follow and you are welcome to sign up for our newsletter by emailing Robert

Robert of Bee Sustainable is happy to discuss any of these issues if you drop by the shop or ring on 03 9939 7301

Resources:
Wintering Bees DPI NSW
Combining hives
Pests and Diseases of Bees