I’m posting this now instead of winter as the title might suggest. Why? Because it pertains to what we should be doing now in preparation for winter. Rusty is correct in her assumptions. It’s what we do or don’t do that gets our bees through the winter. Enjoy!
It’s official: I overwintered all my colonies once again. In fact, in seven of the last ten years I managed to pull every single colony through the bleak northwest winter. Having said that, the questions I’m asked are always the same: “What mite meds do you use?” “How long do you feed?” “What is your winter configuration?” All these queries presume that there is some magic trick to overwintering. If you only buy the right stuff, you will have no more bee problems.
The questions remind me of photography. Every time someone takes a truly outstanding photograph, people ask, “What camera did you use?” as if the camera went out and took pictures by itself. The photographer wasn’t sitting in the mud, all scrunched down at bug level, sweltering in the sun, and not breathing lest he produce carbon dioxide. He didn’t take 853 shots and discard 852 of them. He didn’t spend the next three days charging all the batteries he drained that afternoon. And he didn’t drive 349 miles and burn untold gallons of fuel to get to the place with all the right bugs.
You need to do the work
Like good photographers, good beekeepers actually do the work. Overwintering a bunch of honey bees is an art form. To me, it is amazing that any bug—not in a state of diapause or quiescence—can actually make it through such a long period of incarceration. I think we should be more surprised by colonies that make it than by those that don’t.
But in deference to those who want to know how to overwinter, I had a long think over it. I know what has vastly increased my chances of overwintering—things like moisture quilts and no-cook candy boards. My system evolved over a number of years and weathered many naysayers. I read books and asked question of engineers and architects about how things work in enclosed spaces, things like airflow, ventilation, heat loss, and condensation. Then I asked questions of biologists about nutrition and entomologists about diseases and vectors.
Read the full article here: Overwintering success: the one thing I do differently — Honey Bee Suite