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British Beekeepers Association

How to help honey bees (Apis mellifera) survive the winter.

Good beekeeping practice involves the following actions to get ready for winter:

  • Make sure your bees have good reserves of honey to feed on over the winter and, if insufficient, feed them with concentrated syrup. Remove queen excluders and preferably leave any remaining honey in the supers to provide extra reserves. Ensure you have a stock of fondant ready in case food reserves run low.
  • Take steps to prevent entry of mice using small narrow entrances or mouseguards, and protect against woodpeckers if they are a risk.
  • Make sure your hives are weathertight.
  • Check varroa counts and make sure you have Apibioxal to treat varroa in December if necessary.
  • Regularly heft the hives to make sure the colonies have food and that the ‘cluster’ has not become isolated from their food stores. If so, place a slab of fondant on the frames above the cluster.
  • Provide water (contained in a large plant saucer part-filled with gravel) 20 or so metres from the hive and regularly top up with fresh water.
  • If there is a heavy fall of snow, clear it from the hive roof and check that the entrance is clear.
  • Wash your bee suit and store in dry conditions.
  • Seal supers to prevent wax moth gaining access to combs and treat combs if necessary before putting them into store.