November is the month to just “Be Prepared” for anything as an Eagle Scout would say. Make sure you are ready for a weird, late fall where the weather is still warm or for a blistering cold snap that could case your bees to struggle to stay warm. This really is your last chance to make sure your bees are ready for a long sleep and you have to put them to bed for the winter, so be sure to kiss them good bye and prepare some things to check on them every so often during the months ahead.
- Observation: Look at how much honey the bees were able to produce over the season. Plan accordingly for how well you think they are prepared to make it through the winter.
- Suggestion: Read the article entitled, "What Do Bees Do In the Winter? And, How to Winterize a Top Bar Hive" to understand more about the winter honey bee cluster and how bees survive over the winter.
- Action: Feed your bees? There are a number of ways to care for your bees this time of the year. Choose one according to your own beekeeping philosophy and based upon the resources available to you:
- Do nothing (This is a popular choice for many "treatment-free" beekeepers). It allows you to determine if you have smart and strong bees. If you left enough honey for your bees to make it through the winter according to the relative size of the cluster, you might very well be fine to just let the bees be bees. The idea here is that if the bees have a good home to live in, they should be able to survive on their own, without the intervention of humans.
- Put stored bars of honey back into the hive. Be sure to arrange the bars correctly. Look at the October Honey-Do Beekeeping Checklist for more info on this.
- Cut up honey comb and put into Ziploc bags (liquid raw honey from the hive works, too!). Cut an X into the bag, leave on top of a section of top bars and be sure the bees can get to it.
- Make some Honey Bee Tea (used when honey resources might be low)
- Feed them Sugar Syrup (last choice)
- Observation: Is your hive ready for winter? Have you made sure look at wind patterns, pests, precipitation, etc. to be sure that your hive is in the most protected location (for you) possible?
- Action: Your winterizing gear should all be in place at this time.
- Here’s a link to the Beepods Winterizing Kit (for owners of the Beepods Beekeeping System)
- For other beekeepers there are 3 main concerns; insulation/moisture control; windbreak; pest defense.
- Plan: If you are going to move your hive, wait until the weather stays consistently below 40 degrees for at least 5 days straight.
- Suggestion: Plan your inspections around the weather. Remember, it is best to be sure that the relative temperature directly outside of the Beepod is at least 50 degrees F if you are going to open up the hive. (Read October Honey-Do Beekeeping Checklist for specific inspection instructions)
- Action: Once the temperature drops to an average of 40 degrees F, use the Beepods BeeRito Wrap. It is the best wind block for those who will not be placing their Beepod in an outbuilding or shed.
- Action: At this time of the year, if might be appropriate to completely close the bottom vent boards if you do not have your Beepod wrapped with the BeeRito. Stay aware of the night temperatures specifically for this step. If you ARE using the BeeRito, the bottom vent of the hive should remain open just a crack. The BeeRito will have a mesh bottom that will still allow some air flow. The goal here is to create an environment where excessive moisture in the hive will not become an issue.
- Observation: Pay attention to your bees throughout the winter.
- Cleansing flights will take place on warmer days
- Brood will not be made during this time
- Watch for signs of intruders
- Action: Track what’s going on at your hive and always make note in the Healthy Hive Inspection™ Software.
- Action: Spend the winter reading and learning about bees.