This blog explains how I keep bees. It works for me, it might not work for you. Use my methods at your own risk. Always wear protective clothing and use a smoker when working bees.

Search This Blog

Saturday, September 8, 2018


Beekeepers are getting in their last chores of the season. Making sure a colony has sufficent stores for winter survival is one of the last hurdles to cross for getting the hives ready for wintering. A colony of bees eats about 12 lbs of honey a month. This is about a frame and a quarter of honey. When brood rearing starts sometime in February, the honey consumption will increase. We can feed syrup again in early March, so that is our target for food stores. While this is a general rule of food consumption, use of stores can increase or decrease by the size of the overwintering cluster.
 For wintering we would like the following, if you have checked them off already that is a good place to be.
  • Have a colony as mite free as possible
  • In a perfect world, we would like to see 8 full frames of honey and one partially filled frame, say about two thirds full. The partially filled frame is located in the middle of the top box. The reason for the partially filled frame is that when the bees move up in January, transitioning from the lower box into the top box, it is easier to move up on a little empty comb instead onto cold honey or frozen honey. The cluster can move up and warm up adjacent honey in the moving process. The box under the top box should have about four frames of honey. This should give them enough food for winter. 
  • Feeding should be done as rapidly as possible. Don't drag this out over six weeks. Feeding with a quart jar with six holes in the lid, does not cut it for fall feeding. Feed with multiple feeder pails or a hive top feeder. With 40,000 bees in the hive, feeders will get empty quickly. If colonies are close to being full, you can feed one colony, then three days later feed the next one. Or, if you have the feeders, feed them all.
  • Your choice of feed for fall feeding is 2:1 sugar syrup, two parts sugar to one part water. The bees will have to suck this down, store it in the cells, dehumidify it to turn it into honey. After the bees turn it into honey, the net amount of actual food will be about 2/3rds of what you put in. Meaning if you fed 10 pounds of 2:1 sugar syrup, your net of honey would be around 7 lbs.
  • Feeding with ProSweet. ProSweet is similar to honey. It weighs about 11.5 lbs per gallon. The bees can take down ProSweet and put it into the cells and they don't have to do anything to it. Put it in the cells and they are done. If you give the bees 10 pounds of ProSweet, they have 10 pounds of food.
How to feed fast:
Three feeder pails can be put right on top of the frames this time of year. The bees will drain them in about 3-4 days. Cover with and empty brood box and inner and tele cover.
Feeding with a top hive feeder:

Feeding needs to happen now. Feed fast and get it done. The longer we feed, the longer brood is in the hive. The longer brood is in the hive, the more mites we get. Feeding spurs brood production. Get the feeding done. We want the queen to stop laying, so when we treat with oxalic acid in late October, hopefully the hive will be broodless. With a broodless hive, all the mites that are left in the hive are on the bees. The oxalic acid treatment will put a serious hurt on any left over mites. Then the colony will be ready for the rigors of winter.