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. Boil the water, turn off the heat, and add your sugar, stirring to dissolve. 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 as aggressive yellowjackets can quickly decimate a weaker colony – reduce your entrances, use robbing guards, and keep those yellowjacket traps close to the hive and freshly baited. However, it is important to keep good ventilation in the hive when treating for Varroa destructor. Remember that if you are treating your hive, solid entrance reducers should be removed for the duration of treatment.