As the season winds down for our bees, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind to ensure your colony has the best chance for overwintering success.
- Ensure your hive has adequate pollen storage – if in doubt, a protein patty is a great supplement to boost the protein levels in your hive. Long-lived “winter bees” will survive off the protein they have stored in their bodies. If you are in doubt, give them a patty!
- Assess how much honey your bees have stored. Hot end of summer temperatures can cut the foraging season short, forcing your bees to dip into their reserves. Bees need roughly 70-90 pounds of honey to overwinter in our climate. A rough estimate of this would be a deep hive box full of honey.
- If your hive is light on nectar stores, begin feeding them a 2:1 sugar to water mixture which the bees can store for later use. Do NOT boil the water! Warm water is fine and makes mixing easier, but boiled sugar syrup can harm your bees. When mixing large batches, using an electric mixer or a drill with a paddle attachment can make mixing easier. Bees will struggle to remove the moisture from light syrup (1:1) in damp fall weather, so make their job easier and be sure to use a 2:1 ratio.
- Robbing bees and yellowjackets can still be a problem – reduce your entrances, use robbing guards, and keep those yellowjacket traps close to the hive and freshly baited. Aggressive yellowjackets can quickly decimate a weaker colony.