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Winter Starts in October

Winter. Experienced beekeepers spend a lot of time talking about Winter (I think they talk about it more than collecting honey, in all honesty). This is a time when the bees are most at risk. The temperatures drop to levels where a lone bee cannot survive. Nectar is non-existent. Their stressed state makes them vulnerable to diseases and parasites. All in all, Winter is a rough time to be a bee!

So, why all the talk about Winter? You want to give the bees a good shot at making it through the Winter. The term that most folks use these days is ‘Winterizing’, which are the steps that you take to get the hive ready for the Winter. There are a list of things that need to be considered (noted in a paper that I have posted as a page for later reference.) BEFORE Winter gets here. I have known this from day one.  I have been taking notes and getting ready to implement these steps, PRIOR to Winter arriving. But, it would appear that there was one crucial bit of knowledge that I missed! To a beekeeper, ‘Winter’ does not follow the normal seasons!

In my area (Zone 7), the seasons follow a fairly even flow. Three months per set, here or there, with Winter officially starting in late December. In all honesty, I consider mid- to late-January as the start of Winter. Years of duck hunting have proven to me that, on average, the really tough weather starts then. So, I have always been planning to Winterize my hive in December. But, as with all things related to bees (it would seem), I have missed the boat once again. Winter, to a Beekeeper, starts in October (a strange thought that will take getting used to). So, as of this writing, I have un-Winterized bees even though Winter has begun! Argh!

At any rate, what follows are the steps that I plan to implement tomorrow, the 14th of November, 2009, but hope to implement in early October in the years that follow.

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