Keeping Bees in November and December
It’s too late to go down into our hive boxes even though the weather is often in the 50’s. We
don’t want to break the propolis seal the bees have put between the boxes. Anything you may
want to do should be done near the top.
Your to do list: (Print it out and use it as a checklist.)
1. Be sure your lids have some serious weight on them. A cinder block is perfect.
2. Be sure your queen excluders are removed. The bees need to be able to get the honey.
3. Every hive needs a mouse guard. Most entrance reducers have openings small enough
to keep mice out if you use the tiny slit that’s about ½ inch high and three inches wide.
Another option is to staple hardware cloth with ½ inch holes.
4. Heft the hive from the back bottom using one hand. Do this every two or three weeks.
It should be very heavy, hard to lift. If not, keep feeding. If the days are sunny and in the
50’s and the nights are not much colder you can still do 2:1 sugar syrup (sugar: water).
Add some Honey-B-Healthy or the like if you can afford it. Note that sugar syrup adds
moisture to the hive. If it’s too cold for syrup, use a sugar block, fondant, or even just
cane sugar. You don’t want to add pollen patties. That encourages egg laying and it’s
too late for that.
5. Keep an eye on your bottom boards if you use them. If there is water on the board your
ventilation is inadequate. You can do something as simple as putting a little shim in the
corners between the inner cover and the outer cover. See other suggestions in the
September month-by-month article. Remember bottom boards don’t have to be all the
way in or all the way out. You can use them and still leave it open a few inches.
6. Absolutely treat for mites using oxalic acid, either vaporization or dribble. See
www.honeybeehealthcoalition.org video on oxalic acid. You may need to do it more
7. Once the highs are in the 30s or 40s and the lows are below freezing some of us wrap
our hives for added insulation and to reduce moisture. Options include black tar paper,
foil covered insulation, Styrofoam, or bubble wrap. Be sure your insulation doesn’t cover
up the ventilation!
8. Any drawn frames need to be protected from wax moths. Freeze for a day or two if
possible and then seal in totes in garbage bags. Paramoth is also an option.