Now that fall is here, it’s time to start thinking about preparing to winterize your hives.
Here in Ontario, we could get freezing temps, lots of snow, high winds and/or unseasonably warm temps, rain, and thaws. This list will help you with some ideas.
I know, the calendar still says September, but in a blink, we’ll be facing the long, cold dark days of winter. Now’s the time to start prepping.
Remove any empty supers. You want to keep the interior of the hive in proportion with the size of the colony.
Does your hive have a laying queen? There should be some brood in your hive. If you can’t find a queen, order one asap. You can find a reputable seller at OntarioBee.com. If you’re local, you can call us.
Check the size of your colony, and think about combining small ones.
Check for honey stores. If your hives are too light, feed your bees. The best food for bees, is of course their own honey. Feeding honey from an unknown source, such as a supermarket or even another beekeeper, can cause infection in your hives. Don’t do it.
Check your frames. Are in the right place? You want the colony to be able to move laterally in one direction to find their food source.
Reduce hive entrances. As the weather gets colder, mice and other small creatures are looking for a place to spend the winter. Your honey-filled hive makes a lovely home.
Do a quick look around the bottom of your hive. Is there any vegetation? Weeds can provide a hiding place for those who may want to move into the hive. Removing the weeds helps make it harder for some things to gain access to your hive.
Do you need to think about mite treatment?
We can get a lot of moisture during the winter, make sure that your lids will keep out the rain.
If wintertime moisture is a problem in your hives, add a quilt box above the brood boxes.
It’s critical to provide ventilation for your hives. Air must be able to come in through the bottom and out through the top.
Think about adding a skirt around the base of your hive to reduce drafts. Don’t forget the bees still need air!
Secure your lids with heavy stones or tie-downs.
Shield upper ventilation holes from side winds.
If you’re in an unusually high wind area, think about using a windbreak.
In Ontario, extreme cold can be a real problem. We recommend wrapping hives with insulation but, remember bees still need the air. Don’t forget the ventilation. You can buy hive wraps at Innisfilcreekhoney.com
Is winter flooding a possibility? If yes, move your hives to higher ground before it becomes an issue.
Did we miss anything? Let us know! Leave us a comment or send us a message on our socials and we’ll add it to the list.