The Critical Fall Inspection (for Texas / Southern Climes)
By Dennis Brown
Winter is upon us and the beekeeper’s most important activity of the year is here: the fall inspection. What you do in the fall will determine how successful you will be in the spring. If you perform a good fall inspection, you will limit the number of losses you will have from winter. If your bees can’t winter successfully then spring really doesn’t matter. Winter is the hardest time of the year on your bees and they need to be prepared.
As managers, that is where we come in. If the bees have everything they need to withstand the winter months, they stand a good chance of surviving the winter and going into springtime with a strong and healthy hive.
These are some things every beekeeper should take into account during their fall inspection:
- Evaluate the strength of the hive. If numbers are not adequate, unite the hive with another hive. Don’t wait until the winter months or you’ll kill the hive. Five frames of bees per brood box are adequate.
- Determine the amount of stores the bees have to winter on. In the southern U.S. you should leave a minimum of forty pounds of honey for the bees. In the northern regions, you should double that amount. A full brood frame of honey will weigh approximately seven pounds.
- Monitor the mite load in the hive. If the mite load is too high, perform powdered sugar treatment every week for a minimum of four weeks. If the mite load is still too high, repeat the treatment. Plan on requeening the hive in the spring.
- Make sure the hive equipment is in good condition.
Our hives don’t have to suffer and become a winter statistic. By making sure that our hives have everything they need, our bees will be successful and so will we.
Dennis Brown is author of “Beekeeping: A Personal Journey” and shares his extensive knowledge of bees at www.lonestarfarms.net.