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Long Lane Honey Bee Farms

feeding bees in the winter

Feeding Bees In The Winter

One of the most important aspect of winter survival of your hive is knowing how to feed your bees in the winter. So many beekeepers lose their hives in the winter and they blame the cold. Cold weather rarely is the cause of honey bees dying in the winter. They are more than able to make it through harsh, northern winter weather. The trick is to make sure to raise an abundance of new bees in the fall. Bees raised in the fall live 4-6 months. These are bees of winter physiology. Summer bees only live around 40 days. So you can see why it is important to have a strong population of bees of winter physiology. In my ONLINE COURSE, "How To Get Your Bees Through The Winter", I go into greater detail.

1. Never feed honey bees liquid sugar water when they are clustered.

Bees rarely consume a watery sugar substance below 50 degrees (f). They will consume honey or candy boards during the winter because of the higher sugar content.

2. Feed candy boards only above the winter cluster.

Since colonies cluster during the winter, often frames of honey are too far to the side of the winter cluster to be available. A candy board is always above the cluster no matter where the move within the hive.

3. Allow upper ventilation when feeding candy boards in the winter.

Feeding bees in the winter with our winter-bee-kind provides upper ventilation allowing for excess moisture to leave the hive. An upper entrance can also aid in encouraging the bees to defecate outside the hive during the winter because it the upper entrance is closer to the cluster than their bottom entrance.

4. Protein must be added to the candy for winter survival.

Bees cannot live on sugar alone. They also need proteins which can be added to candy boards. We have been adding protein powder to our sugar water and our candy boards for many years with great success. We sell 1/2 containers because most places only sell 20 pounds and most beekeepers do not need that much.

5. Do not allow the candy boards to go completely empty. Replace promptly. 

Check out our Winter-Bee-Kinds, the perfect winter feeding solutions! Our Winter-Bee-Kinds provide upper insulation, a barrier to prevent moisture from developing in the hive, an upper entrance which the bees rely on exclusively in the winter and of course our proprietary mixture of protein, amino acids and carbs.

Take our ONLINE COURSE, "GETTING YOUR BEES THROUGH THE WINTER." You've invested a lot of time and money so far. Invest in taking our class so that you can give your best to your bees going into winter.

We know what it is like to live in the north. Here in Illinois it can be brutal on hives in the winter. That's why I worked exclusively for years to figure out how to overwinter hives. Think of the money you save when your bees make it through winter, not to mention the personal satisfaction.

If feels really bad when you look into your hives in the spring and everything is dead. It's like someone punched you in the stomach. Keeping your bees healthy all year makes you a beekeeping boss.

Why Do Bees Die In The Winter?

Usually colonies die from viruses which are spread by varroa mites.  Also, bees die when they are low in number. You need 40,000 bees to produce the heat needed to stay warm enough to survive winter. You need to make sure you have lots of capped brood in October and November and that your bees have been mite free all year. Otherwise, they will die in February-March and never make it to spring.