Your Bees in November

The hard work of the beekeeping year is now behind us, but there are a few things to keep in mind as we slide into winter.

Ventilation in your hive is extremely important – bees heating the hive create warm, moist air that can either escape the hive or condense on the roof and drip back down onto your bees.  Let’s encourage its escape!  

Leave your screened bottom board open; that is, make sure your mite board has been removed.  Use a Vivaldi style inner cover if possible. If you have been using a plastic top feeder in your Vivaldi cover, be sure to remove this. The bees will be clustered tightly during cold weather and will not be able to reach the liquid food. Any leftover liquid food at this point will only provide extra moisture. Providing absorbent material above the brood nest also works well – we have moisture boards for sale here at the store, or you could use burlap, pine shavings, or even an old bath towel. An upper entrance, such as a small hole drilled on the face of your boxes, also assists in ventilating the colony. If you are using a solid bottom board, be sure to tilt your hive forward slightly to encourage excess moisture to roll out of the hive.

Don’t forget to add mouse guards or entrance reducers!  Bees in natural tree hives prefer small entrances, as do our managed colonies. 

It is a good idea to provide a rain cover for your hives, giving the bees at least a foot of space outside the entrance to allow for cleansing flights and help prevent dysentery during long rainy spells. An oversized piece of particle board on top of your telescoping top weighted with a rock will work fine, but you can get creative with your rain cover too!

Feed dry sugar or fondant if a colony feels light when hefted from the back. Winter protein can be fed in concert with sugar/fondant. Winter protein has a high sugar content and low protein content (4% protein as opposed to summer patties with ~18% protein) which gives the bees the nutrients they need without forcing the queen to lay brood.

Make sure you are NOT opening the hive on days where the temperature is below 55 degrees.

Look for activity on a warmer day – your bees will be anxious to take cleansing flights.  Hives with no visible activity on a warm day warrant a closer look.

We hope you and your bees are having a great November!