Farm Focus: Winterizing Honey Bees

Kelly Knapp of Miss Bee Haven, who tends several hives at
Frog Hollow, is busy this time of year! She is preparing the
bees to weather the winter ahead. She begins by checking
the health of each hive. She opens the boxes to evaluate the
population of the hive and monitor the activity level of the
bees. A healthy hive will have many bees that are flying in and
out of the hive regularly to collect pollen. If she finds a hive
that has a low population and/or inactive bees, she will either
combine that hive with a stronger hive or provide the hive
with a “candy stick” which is a board coated with sugar and an
essential oil blend. This board will provide extra nutrients for
the winter and help keep infection at bay.

 
For all hives, Kelly helps the bees create a warm and cozy
winter abode. Each hive has at least 3 boxes. The bottom two
boxes are the brood chambers where the eggs are laid. Every
box above those chambers holds the honey. When checking
the health of the hive, Kelly makes sure the brood boxes have
enough honey and wax within the bottom two boxes. This is
the honey that will sustain the bees throughout the winter. To
survive the winter, the bees cluster together and vibrate to stay
warm. If boxes above the brood chambers are left on the hive,
the hive temperature drops and bees may also migrate up into
the upper chambers reducing the heat of concentration of the
hive.

 
Once the honey boxes have been removed, she puts a lid on
the uppermost brood box. The bees then do their work of
winterizing their hive. They produce propolis that they use to
seal any cracks around the lid and any holes in their chamber.
This propolis keeps cold air and winds out as well as protects
the bees from ants interested in getting in.

 
The honey Kelly is collecting from the uppermost boxes is
being strained and jarred right now! She won’t harvest any
more honey until sometime during the summer months when
the bees have created a stockpile from their spring forages.
We can’t wait to taste this Fall’s honey harvest! Honey from
Miss Bee Haven is available as an add-on to your fruit boxes. It
is delicious.

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