Nurturing Bees in the Cold

Posted by: | Posted on: September 1, 2023

by Steve Cron

Winter beekeeping in the Upstate can be a challenge. Beekeepers need to be diligent during the colder months to make sure their honeybee colonies stay safe. Since it’s colder and there’s less food around, beekeepers have to focus on things like food, mite control, and keeping the hives warm.

Food: Bees need about 40-60 pounds of honey stored in their hives to survive the winter. Beekeepers can also give them extra food like fondant or sugar syrup. It’s best to give this food before the cold weather comes so the bees can store it properly.

Mite Control: Beekeepers need to check for Varroa mites regularly using methods like alcohol washes and powdered sugar dusting. If there’s too many, beekeepers have to act quickly to get rid of them. There are different ways like using organic acids, essential oils, or synthetic pesticides; it’s  important to follow the specific directions on the labels to keep the bees safe.

Hive Warmth: Bees stay warm by huddling together, but when it’s extremely cold, it’s tough for them. Making sure the hive is warm is crucial. Bees also need fresh air, so the hive shouldn’t be too stuffy. In the the Upstate, it’s usually enough to block the strong winds, which helps keep the hives cozy and at a safe temperature.

Working Together and Learning: People who know a lot about beekeeping in the local area can give great advice. Remember, “All beekeeping is local,” which means that what works for bees can be different in different places. Talking with local experts is a great way to find solutions.

If beekeepers focus on these things and learn from local experts, they can increase the chances that their honeybees will make it through the winter and do well when spring returns.

Steve and Teresa have a thriving honey and veggie business called Sow It Grows in Simpsonville, and when not tending to the bees and garden, they are tending to their grandkids, their dog Josie, and a small flock of chickens. Sow it Grows can be found at the Simpsonville Farmers Market every Saturday during the summer season. For more information, call 864-561-2336. 

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