Just as we prepare our homes for the winter, we must also prepare our honey bees. To successfully keep honey bees alive, you must remember the three M’s; Mites, Moisture and a Meal.
Mites – If you have honey bees, you are also growing various mites. Varroa Mites live and reproduce with our bees and are the #1 killer of our hives. I currently use Oxalic Acid (wood bleach) and a vaporizer to reduce the Varroa Mite levels. The Skagit Valley Beekeepers have two units to loan out to members, as well as directions for use.
Moisture – When doing your hive inspection, you may notice moisture under the lid. Bees create heat and moisture while eating the honey. Keeping your hive dry is important and simple. Place a small stick under the lid creating a gap, this will allow air to circulate in your hive. A dry hive will give you healthier bees.
Meal – Last, but not least, is the meal. If you have a good amount of honey, be sure the cluster of bees can reach it. Your frames of honey must be on the outside edge or above the bees. This ensures they can easily move to it during the cold weather. No honey in the hive? No problem. You can create a simple feeding system called the Mountain Camp method. Place a sheet of newspaper about the cluster of bees, then pour a gallon of regular sugar onto the paper. Place an empty hive body over the sugar and replace the lid. Be sure to check it every week, and add more sugar as needed.
I would recommend you join the local bee club in your area. You will find members with multiple levels of experience, from beginners to commercial.
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