So all honey is off, the girls been treated for mites, and you are ready to tuck the hives in for the winter… now what?!?
Winter prep in this area involves several steps.
- Wind Break – try to set up a wind break for your hives. I have seen everything from locating the hives to an interior wall of a shed, to simply wrapping the hive in tar paper (roofing felt). the tar paper also has the added advantage of adding some heat due to solar gain when the sun hits it. If you are wrapping the hives, be sure to leave the entrance(s) open so the bees can still take cleansing flights!
- Moisture Control – It is imperative you do something to combat condensation in the hive. Some people just put the cover on at an angle and allow gravity to flow to the side of the hive. Others add a specific layer to combat this – there are commercially made products like this one, or they make their own using sawdust or other absorbent material.
- Emergency Feed – this is an insurance policy in case your bees need additional food before spring comes and you can feed sugar syrup. This can also be done via commercial means, but many beekeepers find it much more cost effective to make their own. The recipe I like is as follows 12 lbs sugar to 1 cup of water and 3-5 drops lemon grass oil, Honey Bee Healthy, or equivalent (optional). Mix with or without oils, and form into mold (I use paper plates or pie tins), and let dry. when it is time, just slide off mold and place on top of uppermost frames of the hive. the additional benefit of this is that the sugar also acts as a moisture absorber. I like to use the plates, as it is easy to replace more food when needed, instead of needing to replace a whole shim at a time (candy board).