Beekeeping is a hobby to some people while to others it is their source of income. Whatever the reason, beekeeping is not an easy task. Beekeeping practice requires excellent management skills, good stewardship, time management, and expert knowledge.
Beekeeping is the art of keeping and maintaining bee colonies of honey-producing bees. One of the honey-producing bees is the melanoma. People keep bees for various reasons.
- Collecting honey
- Collecting other products such as bee wax
- Collecting bee pollen for crop pollination
Beekeeping is a practice that is greatly affected by the environment around the apiary. One of the biggest challenges that most beekeepers do not prepare for in advance is climate. The management style employed by beekeepers is determined by climate and the time factor. It is important to note that each type of colony is unique. Winter poses a challenge, as many bee farmers lose a lot of bees during this time. Therefore, one needs the expert skills and knowledge to manage beehive during winter effectively.
The temperature can go as far as -40 degrees and thus the air chills the hive through the cracks and openings. There is also a risk of the colony clusters eating through the honey stores. The bees will only come out to eliminate their waste. It is very important to know and understand how to manage bee enterprise during winter.
Management Practices Of Beekeeping In Cold Climates
#1. Moving Your Bees
It is vital as a beekeeper to keep abreast of the climatic changes in your region. When you see winter approaching, it is critical to make the necessary preparations. Find a place that has full access to sunlight when it is available. It is essential to try and keep the bees as warm as possible during winter. When you find a great place, be innovative, and move your bees there. The site should have as minimal traffic as possible.
#2. Provide the Bees with a Wind Breaker
We all know that winter comes with a lot of unfavorable conditions. Moving your bees is not the only option that will help preserve them during this time. It is important to protect the bees against the strong winds and the winter storms that come up. Many people lose their bees each year due to disasters caused by winter. Such occurrences cause substantial economic losses to bee farmers. You can move your bees to a location that has trees. Another option is to create a stable and robust fence around the apiary. The wind blockers will help prevent the strong wind from blowing to the apiary and exposing the bees to extreme temperatures.
#3. Reducing the Size of the Hive
Most times during winter, the beehives tend to shrink in preparation for the winter. It is critical at this time to take out part of the hive. Reducing the number of boxes is essential in lowering idle and empty spaces to maximize warm temperatures. The number of bees reduces over the winter period for one reason or the other.
The bees clump together during the cold weather to obtain warmth from one another. So they definitely will end up leaving some of the hives empty. Remove the other colonies so that you can help keep them warm. With such measures, the occurrences of frozen bees or cold hives can be avoided.
#4. Shut the Front Door
You don’t want your bees to get trapped, but if you have a large reducer on the front of the hive it is time to switch it to a smaller reducer.
The reason this is done is that during the summer the hive needs a larger entrance so bees can get in and out of the hive easily and more of them at a time. They are on a mission to collect food to make honey for winter.
But when winter hits, there aren’t as many bees in the hive so you don’t need as big of an entrance. Plus, they aren’t going to be flying in and out nearly as much. Their main focus is staying warm and keeping the queen warm.
So when you add the smaller reducer for the hive entrance, it still allows the bees to move in and out easily. Stop the entrance from being so large which reduces the amount of wind and cold that gets into the hive.
#5. Feeding Your Bees should be Your Priority
During the typical weather, bees can leave the hive and fly around to look for food. However, during the winter, the bees do not move around at all. The cold outside discourages much movement. It is vital to make sure that you provide enormous food for the bees before the winter creeps in.
There are various types of feeds you can find in the market for bees. Some of them include the fondant or the grease patties. Some people prefer using them both to provide varieties. For those who cannot afford to buy you can make the feeds yourself. The recipes are quite straightforward to follow, and the ingredients are locally available.
Place the food in the hive before the winter begins. The food is enough to last the bees until the end of the winter. Feeding the bees will help prevent situations where the bees eat the honey stores.
#6. Timely Checking on the Bees
It is not advisable to keep opening the lid of the boxes during the cold winter. It is important however to check out and see if there are any abnormalities in the state of the bees. You can check on whether the windbreakers are still in place and take corrective measures. You can either add other windbreakers or move the boxes to other places that are conducive.
On the days that the temperature is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, open the lids and check on the bees. Find out if the food supply is enough and whether the number of bees is correct. Sometimes the bees can die during winter due to starvation, or they can run away due to cold. Checking up on them helps to ensure you add the food supplies or you find another warm place for them.
#7. Cover Them
Cover the hives when wintering bees. However, if you live in an area where you get lots of snow and constant cold temperatures it might be wise to invest in a hive cover. You simply slide them onto your hive and let them help to keep your hives a little warmer. But be sure that they are on securely. I’ve heard reports of people not securing their hive covers properly, and they fly off during a winter storm. Just enable to follow directions properly to get the best use out of the bee covers.
#8. Don’t be so stuffy
Bees do need their hive to be properly vented so it won’t get stuffy. The actual reason for this is because honey bees gather together in a cluster inside the hive to produce warmth.
When they do this, they also put off a small amount of moisture. If airflow can’t get through the hive the moisture turns into condensation which will eventually be the death of your bees.
So what you can do is slightly vent the roof of their hive by tipping it up slightly at an angle. This will allow a small amount of airflow to get in there and let things breathe a little. Just not to the point of allowing your bees to freeze.