DIY PROJECTS/BEES

Winterizing Bee Hives

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

It seems like every time you see an article on bees everything looks picture perfect. Clean white bee boxes, sitting in perfect rows amongst a field of wild flowers in bloom. The reality of a working bee yard however is quite different. I thought you might find it interesting to see what your average bee yard looks like in the middle of winterizing bee hives.

Chris looks after about 65 hives so he is considered a small operation. We originally had bees primarily for the honey production but are now more interested in bee breeding. We do still harvest enough honey for our own personal use as once you’ve had the real thing there is no going back to honey in a super market plastic tub.

Winterizing Bee Hives

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

Chris now focuses his energies on raising queens and nucs (small bee hives) to supply other bee keepers with starter hives and new and better queens.  Fall is the time of year the hives are gathered up from all their outsourced summer locations and brought back to our farm to be prepared for the winter.

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

Since we live in a wild animal corridor, it has been a real challenge keeping unwanted critters away from the hives. Surrounding the hives is a wire barrier, much like a fortress which keeps just about everyone out except for the bears. They are our biggest challenge, especially in the fall.

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

Bears are not discouraged and barge right through this first fence. Bears are a real concern as they can totally destroy a bee yard in a few short hours.  Our next line of defence is an electric fence. The curious bear leads with his nose and receives a good shock should he touch the fence. This does not harm the bear, but he doesn’t like it. Most times he will saunter off to friendlier terrain, but it’s not a guarantee. We are always most happy when the bears finally go to bed, around the end of November.

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

Our winters are cold enough that the hives must be insulated for the cold months. Chris has used tar paper, but finds insulation board to be more effective. Each hive must be wrapped.

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

When the sun shines on a fall day the bees come out but there is not much left for them. Chris gives them a special treat to keep them busy while he works. He mixes up a sugar syrup solution that they love.

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

Once the hives are wrapped, he will add the insulated lids and outfit each hive with a mouse guard. When you’ve done all you can do, you close up the fence and hope for the best. See you in the spring!!

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

Winterizing bee hives with Sensible Gardening

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Tagged bee breeding, bee hives, bee shed, bee yard, bees, winterizing bee hives, winterizing bees

About Lynne Cherot

It's been a life time of gardening and many years of working in the nursery trade, but now I enjoy exploring and creating in my own gardens and farm fields . I'm passionate about gardening and work alongside my husband who takes care of our apiary. Bees & flowers make a great team! Hopefully by sharing my garden knowledge, your gardening will be easier and more enjoyable.
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4 thoughts on “Winterizing Bee Hives

  1. Jennifer, yes the bears are very dangerous and we must be very careful and remember bears have an incredible sense of smell. The mice try to enter the hive for it’s warming shelter. In winter the bees are all clustered at the top of the hive to keep warm. If the weather is warmer they do sometimes break from the cluster and sting the mice.

  2. Thanks Jacki, most people have no idea how much work it is to care for bees through the entire year. Just like most things I guess!. Glad you found it interesting:)

  3. I know nothing about keeping bees and so I found this interesting. The scent of the honey must carry quite far on the wind to bring bears a calling. I would assume that the bears must not take kindly to having their feast interrupted and it might be dangerous to try to chase them off? Or do they slip into the hives under cover of night? I also wonder about mice. Wouldn’t the mice get stung and that would deter them?

  4. Lynne, what a wonderful story! I had no idea how much goes into the care of overwintering the hives – silly me, I thought they were just left to their own devices.

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