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Keeping Bees in October  

Evaluate the state of each hive.

Hopefully, you did this in September but if not do it now.  Most importantly, are you going into winter with a queen?  It’s probably impossible to find a queen now.

1.        No Queen?  Take whatever honey your other hives don’t need but be sure to save some good, capped frames to use with the NUCs you start with in the spring.  Pollen frames will mold before spring.  Move them to another hive.  Uncapped honey will also mold and be unusable to humans or bees.  Be sure to move that to another hive.

2.        Have queen but weak colony?  (just a few frames of bees and very little brood) Merge with a strong colony using the newspaper method.  Kill queen if you can find her.

3.        Good queen, good colony?   Continue reading below.

Reduce the number of hive boxes where possible.  The goal is to have compact space.  If you have undrawn frames, remove them.  Fill the empty space with Styrofoam that is covered with foil or placed in a plastic bag.


The Honey Flow from knotweed is over.   It will take a few more weeks for the bees to evaporate the nectar and cap it over.  They may surprise you and the super you thought you had is now half empty. 

Good news:   if that’s because they moved the honey down into the lower boxes to be closer.

Bad news:     if the honey was robbed.

The only way to know is by hefting.  You will be doing this all winter.  Stand behind the hive and lift it from the bottom with one hand.  The bees have enough honey if you can hardly lift it or can’t. 

Yes?   No sugar water needed.

No?   Begin feeding gallons thick sugar water (2:1 sugar to water).  Add Honey B Healthy available at the Farm store if you can afford it.  They will move it down fast. Check every four or five days.

POLLEN PATTIES - encourage additional brood rearing; it also allows the colony to save the pollen they brought in to use when the queen starts laying again in February or March.


Wet bees are dead bees.  Bees give off moisture as they consume honey.  That moisture has to go somewhere, or the bees will die very quickly.  The warm, moist air within the hive with a cold lid on top, will drip condensation.  Signs of too much moisture: mold on the inside of the outer cover, or wet spots in the bottom board.

 Options include:         

1.        A quilt box above the inner cover will solve the condensation problem but not the ventilation.  A quilt box is a box with cedar shavings, burlap or some absorbent material. Add a few holes covered with screen and you about have a “Vivaldi board”.

2.        A Vivaldi board – used to feed and ventilate the colony but doesn’t solve the condensation issue.

          On the outside of the hive above the outer cover put some additional protection from wind and cold, perhaps a piece of plywood or insulation.

          Another option is to have no open space between the inner and outer covers.  One can fill this space with insulation sheets or materials.  It still may be important to have the venting of humidity and moisture from the hive via a small upper entrance. 

          Weighing down the hive - Cinder Block (or the like) is critical for keeping the lid from blowing off.  Consider strapping it down to keep it from blowing over.

Entrance reducers and a mouse guard are a must

An effective wind break may be as effective as wrapping with insulating materials.  Keep in mind that extensive fall manipulations will often disrupt the normal bee activity of reorganizing the hive and its resources and be counterproductive.

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