It is time to prepare the hives for winter. We harvested honey a month and a half ago and the bees have refilled their frames with honey. Each hive needs about 100 lb of honey to survive the winter. Additionally, the hive has to be organized so that the bees can access the honey and still keep their brood warm. Bees do not hibernate — they form a roiling ‘cluster’ of bees around the brood. Their body heat and shivering keep the hive warm all winter. Bees will nip out of the cluster to eat honey, so it has to be close to the brood. In order to give the bees the best chance of surviving the winter, I consolidate the brood into one part of the hive and the honey into an adjacent area. Over the winter, the bees will eat the honey and move into the now-open comb to lay brood.
Horizontal Langstroth Hives
Two of our hives are top-bar-inspired hives that accept standard Langstroth frames. Thee hives are prepared by moving the brood to one side of the hive and then stacking the honey next to it. I put the pollen in between because it is needed for feeding brood. In one horizontal hive (pictured) I have one colony and in the other I have two colonies separated by a divider. We’ll see how well they overwinter in a shared space. The single colony has six frames of brood, two of pollen, and twelve of honey, which is a good proportion of resources. Over the winter, the bees will move from the left to the right, eating the honey and laying new brood.
Standard Langstroth Hives
Langstroth hives are stacked boxes with frames in each box. I consolidated all of the brood and most of the pollen in the bottom box and filled the top one with honey. One of the langstroths had six frames of pollen, much more than I saw in any other hive. I then added a top entrance so the bees can get in and out throughout the winter. The more-typical bottom entrance can get blocked by snow and/or dead bees.
I had some left-over frames so I tossed them into the empty side of the long langstroth hive. If the bees have time, they can keep drawing them out. I also found and got a nice picture of the queen, below.
In another month, I’ll wrap and insulate the hives and share that in another bee update.