What Do Beekeepers Do in Fall
Closing the Apiary
While the leaves are changing color and winter is approaching, it is time to start getting the honey bee hives ready for a long and cold winter. This means treating the honey bee hives for varroa mites, the ground is treated for small hive beetles, and the small hive beetles are under control in the hives. There will be the last of the year's honey harvest to pull off of the honey bee hives as well. And after that, its time to push the surplus honey and/or sugar water to make sure all the stores for the honey bees are as full as possible. And finally, time to pack the honey bee hives up and help them survive whatever the winter can throw. This is the time of year that it is nice to bring a chair out and enjoy the weather, listen to the honey bees, and enjoy what you see.
When fall comes around, it is time to wrap up the years parasite problems. The two main issues are varroa mites and small hive beetles (SHB). The most prevalent treatment for varroa mites is oxalic acid. Vaporizing powdered oxalic acid is how many beekeepers manage this, although some are beginning to create a solution and use a fogger to accomplish this. The Burgess Fogger appears to be the most popular fogger used for this. Both methods are discharged into the honey bee hive and it kills the varroa mite and doesn't affect the honey bees.
As for small hive beetles there are a multitude of methods in attempting to control them. Not matter what in hive method is used, the ground should be treated with an insecticide to kill the larva that drops to the ground to pupate. For a natural method, diatomaceous earth is highly recommended and it is also food grade.
Inside the honey bee hive, there are beetle blasters, entrance traps, diy'er political sign traps, and a dozens others that I don't know about. But shockingly, one of the easier methods is to use a Swiffer Sweeper pad and cut it in half. Place one half on the top where the SHB are wrangled and one above the brood. The SHB's legs get trapped and they die. Easy and cheap method.
Mid to late fall will be the second honey harvest of the year. This is the time of year that the honey bee hive has become established and should be brimming with honey bees. Worker honey bees to be a little more specific with an established home and plenty of them willing to sacrifice them with a nice be sting to their beekeeper. Fall honey collection is generally about the only time I will done my bee jacket for protection.
Fall honey can often taste different than spring honey. The reason for this is the nectar sources can vary and this means that the honey will taste different. Darker honeys will be a heavier flavor but also more nutrient and a lighter honey is often also lighter in flavor. A darker honey acts as a brown sugar for cooking, sweetening oatmeal, etc. and a light honey is good for sweetening cereals and teas.
Winter Food Storage
Honey bees need to have plenty of honey going into the winter. This is why during the fall season and after the second harvest, it is time to feed the honey bees again. This will create a winter surplus of food for them to eat during the winter while they are working to keep the honey bee hive heated. Bees will unhook their wings from the muscles that flap their wings and relax and contract the muscles to generate heat because they do not create their own body heat. This constant activity takes a lot of energy and food to power them.
When winter is coming, I prefer to that my honey bee hives have at least fifteen frames of honey for the winter. They generally have extra when spring does arrive, but I have not had a bee hive run out of honey during the winter and would prefer that to stay the case.
Beekeepers will place a sugar board in the top of the honey bee hive as well. This is a hard sugar food that the honey bees can eat for reserves during the winter. A method that can be used if a beekeeper cuts the hive's honey supply too short for the winter or if the winter last longer than normal and the hive runs out of honey.
Winterize The Hive
Winterizing the honey bee hive is as simple as insulating the hive and/or creating a wind break. Some will put on top insulators, others will pile straw around, some will wrap the hive in insulation wrap. Whatever the method used, it all comes down to giving the bee hive more insulation to manage the cold winter more easily.
Insulation the honey bee hive makes the hive more efficient in retaining the heat created by the honey bees and keep the cold from the hive. This increases the chances of the bee hive to survive offer the winter season.
Beekeeping With Seasons
© 2018 Chris Andrews