As the leaves begin to change and a crispness fills the air, we know that autumn is on the horizon, and with it comes a pivotal time for beekeepers – the start of pre-winter preparations.
This season is crucial as we need to ensure the bee colonies are strong, healthy, and well-equipped to survive the colder months. Proper management during this time is essential for bee colonies’ long-term health and success.
SunVara has put together a handy Fall Checklist for beekeepers to assist you in these essential tasks. If you’re in a hurry, you can also download a summarized PDF at the end of this blog post to print this checklist and mark it as needed!
⚠️ Keep in mind that specific tasks and timing may vary depending on your local climate and the particular needs of your beehives, so consider consulting experienced beekeepers in your area for guidance.
- Harvest honey
Begin harvesting honey if your bees have filled and capped honeycombs. Harvesting honey in autumn helps prevent overcrowding in the hive and reduces the risk of honeybee diseases. Remove extra supers and brood boxes, leaving bees with one or two boxes for winter.
- Feed your bees
As fall progresses, nectar sources may become scarce. Ensure your bees have enough food for the winter by feeding them a sugar syrup solution (2:1 ratio of sugar to water).
- Varroa mite management
Monitor and assess the mite levels in your beehives. If mite levels are high, consider treating your hives with approved mite control methods to protect your bees through the winter.
- Reduce hive entrances
As temperatures drop, reduce the size of hive entrances to make it easier for bees to defend against predators and regulate the hive’s temperature.
- Insulate or wrap hives
If you live in a colder region, consider insulating your hives or wrapping them with insulating materials to help your bees maintain the appropriate temperature.
Ensure your hives have proper ventilation to prevent condensation inside the hive, which can lead to mold and disease.
- Evaluate hive health
Check for any signs of diseases or pests and address them accordingly. Remove any dead or weak colonies to prevent disease spread.
- Winterize your beekeeping equipment
Clean and store your beekeeping equipment for the winter. Ensure that it’s free from honey and propolis to prevent attracting pests.
- Prepare emergency feeding
Have emergency feed (e.g., sugar bricks or fondant) on hand in case your bees run out of food during the colder months.
- Monitor weather
This is of particular importance. Stay informed about local weather conditions and be prepared to take action if freezing or severe weather is expected.
- Plan for spring
Start thinking about your beekeeping goals and plans for the spring, including ordering new bees or queens if needed.
- Education and research
Continue educating yourself about beekeeping best practices, new research, and developments in the field. Attend workshops or seminars if available. There’s always something new to learn!
Remember that beekeeping is a year-round commitment, and the fall is critical to ensure your bees are well-prepared for the upcoming winter months. Regular monitoring and proactive care will help increase the chances of a successful overwintering and a thriving hive in the spring.
And if you read up here, congratulations! Download here the PDF to print SunVara’s Fall Checklist for Beekeepers: