Winter is when most beekeepers lose their hive. Hives can die for a variety of reasons during the winter. After reading this article you will hopefully be well equipped with the knowledge to see your hive safely through the cold months.
Winter preparation should really start in October.
Hives with less than 3-4 frames of bees should be combined.
Make sure your hive has 40-60 lbs of honey/syrup
Check your Mite levels! Many hives die during the winter due to varroa!
Make sure your bees do not have a bunch of empty frame sand supers. It will be difficult for them to regulate the temperature if there is a bunch of empty space.
Make sure the frames of honey are positioned above the cluster. The bees have to move up to get the honey. On cold days they cannot even move one frame over to retrieve the life saving honey.
Top Tips for Keeping your bees alive during extreme cold spells!
Use entrance reducers to restrict the cold airflow into the hive and prevent mice from entering the hive.
Close off screened bottom boards. You do not want cold wind whipping up inside of the hive.
You may want to consider pushing the hives close together so they can share their heat (during the really cold spells).
Make sure all lids and boxes are on nice and snug.
Close off any exterior cracks or holes in the box with duck tape.
The most important aspect is to have a healthy population!! If the bees have a big enough cluster they will be able to maintain their hive temperature.