There are several very important things you should be doing during this season. Winter preparation should be at the foremost of your mind. For optimal overwintering, bees should be disease free, healthy, and well fed. We will cover all these important topics in this article.
Please remember that beekeeping is entirely 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 90º Fahrenheit during the day and 50º-70º during the night. For Texas this is October, for other states this could be August. 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. Remember to remove queen excluders. Bees will begin to cluster as temperatures start to drop. When weather start to drop below 55º and stay there for extended periods of time the bees will cluster. As the bees move upwards eating their stores, the queen will be traped below the excluder and freeze or starve.
2. This is also a great time to put entrance reducers on your hives. As the chilly weather blows in, mice will begin looking for warm homes. Don't let you hive become a field mouse boarding house!! Also put the reducer on with the large hole facing up. (See below) If the reducer is placed face down the bees can clog the hole up and trap themselves in.
3. Tilt hives slightly forward so rains will run out of the hives. This can be accomplished by placing a small piece of wood under the bottom board at the back of the hive. (Note) if your hive has a screened bottom board this isn't necessary.
4. Don’t forget to check stored supers to assure that moth crystals have not evaporated.
5. If your hives have screened bottom boards on them and they are raised above 10 in. off the ground, place a wind block at the base of the hive. This will prevent cold winds from coming in and stirring up the hive.
6. Consider feeding pollen substitute to help increase brood production. Nutrition is important during this time of the year because the hive actually has to raise "higher quality bees". Winter bees have to live longer compared to the 6 weeks of other seasons. High quality protein (pollen) is and excess of it are vital.
7. Feed sugar syrup if the bees have less than 30 pounds of honey.
8. Don't forget to check on your Varroa Mite levels. Don't let these little monsters take your hive out. An article on Varroa can be found under Pests and Management.