Updated: Dec 1, 2022
December has started! With the holiday season underway it can be easy to forget your bees. Thankfully there is not a lot of work for beekeepers during this time of the year. If you treated your hives properly they should be healthy, have plenty of stores, and clustered in their hive with sizeable population. So far, The weather has been rather mild in Texas. This is good for the bees as they are able to forage some. However, they will consume more of their stores as they will be more active. Don't let your bees starve!
Please remember that beekeeping is very regional. However, beekeeping management is similar during the different seasons of the year regardless of location. This month's tips are for the beekeepers who are experiencing temperatures up to 70º Fahrenheit during the day and 25º-50º during the night. For Texas this is December, for other states this could be September. An overview of a seasonal beekeeper's year can be found here. https://www.timbercreekapiaries.com/post/grow-your-blog-community
Now For Some Tips!!
1. Try to check your hives at least once a month for food stores. If they are low on food feed them with a thick 2:1 ratio sugar syrup by weight. Feeding pollen will also help them begin to build up for spring. Pollen patties or dry pollen can be used. However, the bees will not be able to collect dry pollen if the temperature is below 60.
2. Pre-order your Nucs and queens as they usually sell out early!!
3. Plan ahead! Start repairing old woodenware and ordering the correct supplies for the coming year.
4. If your hives brood production is very low (down to 1-2 frames) Now may be a good time to check and take care of varroa.
5. Make sure the lids and boxes are secure against wind. It is also a good idea to install entrance reducers if you have not yet. This helps keep the cold wind from whipping up into the hive.
6. If hives have less than 3 frames of bees combine them as they will most likely freeze with the first few cold snaps. Hives during this time of the year can be combined by simply moving the frames of bees into another hive. It is suggested to kill the queen in the weaker hive before doing so. If you aren't able to find her it's still fine to move the bees together, They will kill one of the queens themselves. When the weather is as cold as it is currently it is not necessary to use the newspaper method to combine the hives. I have successfully combined countless hives during the winter without using a delayed introduction which the newspaper method supplies.