The best thing a beekeeper can have is good genetics and I’m very happy with the quality of bees I have.
Four of my hives were from purchased 2 pound packages and the rest are all feral swarms. In addition I have purchased one Carniolan queen to replace a poor performing queen. This year once again, I’ve had 100% of my hives survive the cold winter. So, I thought I would write a post to describe what I do each year to prepare the hives for winter. Are you ready? Ok, I do absolutely nothing! No closing up the hive. No wrapping the hive with anything. Nothing. Except to ensure they have plenty of honey stores.
The first year I kept bees I was so worried about protecting the bees I replaced the screened bottom board with a solid one, I made a mouse guard and added it to the entrance of the hives, I used an entrance reducer to reduce the amount of cold air that could blow in, I drilled a hole in the top hive body so the bees could enter and exit from the top and the moisture could escape, I sprinkled all the frames and bees with powdered sugar help remove mites, and I wrapped the hives. That year I lost two hives out of four and the rest were very weak. The next year was completely the opposite. I was lazy and just didn’t do anything. The fall got away from me and before I knew it winter was here. I figured I would have to buy all new packages in the spring. To my surprise, 100% survived. So, I changed my outlook on “protecting” the bees and now every year I have purposely done nothing but make sure they are healthy and have enough honey in the hive.
It has been a very cold winter this year and we had more snow this year than most years. I worried a little this year because the cold spell was so cold and lasted so long. The first day temps reached the high upper 40′s I went out to check the bees. The hives were all active with bees on the landing boards. By the time the temps were in the low 50′s they were flying. All of my hives survived the winter and are going strong. This is the beginning of year 5 for this stock. Mite count is very low and other than a few hive beetles, the hives are in perfect condition.