BEEKEEPER'S CALENDAR - October
OCTOBER AND THE BEES:
There are less reasons for the bees to leave the hive. Flying is cut way down. The queen is laying fewer eggs. They are now shifting to winter mode.
OCTOBER AND THE BEEKEEPER:
The goal is to have the bees fill the upper brood chamber during the fall flow, forcing the queen down into the bottom brood chamber. If you do not have enough room, the bees will fill the upper AND lower brood chambers with honey and deprive the colony of space for brood rearing. If this happens, instead of having lots of young bees for the winter, you will have lots of older bees, and the colony will not successfully winter. Always err on the side of too much room, rather than too little.
Prepare your hives for winter. A wind break should be considered. Entrance cleats should be placed in the front opening, along with a mouse guard, to restrict mice from entering the hive. A word about bees and winter. A large, healthy hive will not die from cold weather. They stay warm by clustering in the hive. They keep each other warm. The temperature in the hive is only warm within the cluster. They do not warm the entire inside of their hive, only the cluster. They can survive extreme cold weather. But, moisture can develop within the hive as bees do give off moisture like we do. If this moisture gathers above them, it can drip onto the cluster. This is what can kill bees during the winter. They are much like us. We can be cold and get by. But, we cannot stay alive long if we become wet and cold. Bees can get wet in the summer and it is not a problem. But you must prevent your hive from becoming cold and wet from condensation developing within the hive.
Here's how. Use screen bottom boards, fully opened, without restriction or covers for the winter. Don’t place additional gaps near the top cover. The open screen bottom board allows enough ventilation within the hive to alleviate moisture build up. Don’t wrap for winter, keep in mind that by wrapping your hive, you are increasing the chance for condensation to collect within the hive.
Winter winds can be strong, so place a heavy concrete block on your hives.