How to Prepare Honey Bees for Winter

honey bee hives

Preparing your honey bees for winter should be easy. If it is their first year in your hive, you should not have removed any honey. The first year of honey bee ownership is crucial. All the honey the bees make the first year, they eat to survive during the winter. They are spending a lot of resources building their honeycomb. We have more tips here for new people who want to have bees.

How to Prepare Honey Bees for the Winter

In cold states (like Michigan) our bees hibernate over the winter and we prepare by doing the following:

give them pollen patties – the bees will eat the honey they collected, but having pollen patties it provides the bees protein over the winter. These will help sustain the hive over the winter.

honey stores – there needs to be enough honey for the bees to last the winter.  If it is the first year, you should not take any.  It’s best to leave the honey in place for the winter so you know your bees wintered (survived) and then take honey in the Spring.

tar paper wrap  -place tar paper wrap over the hive.  Tar paper helps insulate and attracts the heat from the sun, to keep the bees warm. You can also something called cozy quilt that works as an insulation blanket. NOTE:  Make sure there is still a means for the bees to get in and out of the hive.  If you get snow, make sure the entrance for the bees is not blocked. (they do leave the hive in the winter when it’s warm to do their business)

bails of straw – place the straw around the hives, (all the way around) this protects from the cold winter elements and blocks wind. You can use a windbreak as well.

ventilation – ensure there is proper ventilation in the hive

mouse guard

Mouse guards – put mouse guards on the entrances to keep mice out of the hives.

boards on top of hives – this keeps the tops from flying off in the winter and keeps animals out.

honey bee hives

Make candy boards – a pollen supplement which is a big sugar wafer that can go on top of the hive. (this is more of a late winter feeding to make sure they get through the Spring.  Usually added in January-February)

bee frame

What tips help your bees survive the winter?

We have honey bees and they sometimes struggle to survive the cold winter months. Check out these tips we have learned to have them have a chance at surviving the winter.

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