How to prepare the honeybee hives for winter is a very important event in the beekeeping element of a homestead. When temperatures drop into the 50s, the honeybees gather in a central area of the hive and form a “winter cluster” in an effort to stay warm and survive. Yes, the winter cluster will move throughout the hive in the winter to reach the available honey stored in the combs. Worker bees eat left behind honey and use the energy it provides to fuel rapid contraction of their wing muscles. Pumping these muscles without flying produces heat in the same way that shivering helps us to warm our own bodies.
There are things you can do to help your honeybees to stay warm and fed throughout the winter:
Plant late bloomers, early spring flowers and flowering trees on your homestead as a food source.
Treat for mites, hive beetles, and diseases if necessary. Put grease patties in each hive. They won’t control a large tracheal mite infestation, but they can slow the increase of mites during the winter months.
If you have lower entrances on your beehives, place mouse traps in front of them to avoid a mice infestation.