The main task of beekeepers in the autumn-winter period is to ensure that the bees spend the winter with the least expenditure of honey and come out energetic and healthy by the spring. Bees in winter are in an inactive state, any disturbance worsens their position and the results of wintering. Therefore, it is necessary to prepare bees, hives and nests in such a way in the fall so that in winter they do not need to be disturbed by inspection, feeding, etc. What has not been done since autumn is already very difficult, and in many cases even impossible to do in winter. Correct and timely preparation of bees in the fall ensures good wintering and high productivity of the apiary. When preparing bees for winter, they are guided by the rule: it is better to make a mistake in the direction of increasing feed reserves than not to add them or leave them just barely enough.
The summer is over. It became noticeably cool. Grasses faded, a leaf of birches and lindens turned green, breathed in autumn. In the morning and by the end of the day, the entrance is empty. Only on warm, fine days does the apiary come to life, and then for a short while. Rarely do you see bees on stingy autumn flowers. The queen bees have already stopped sowing eggs, but there is still printed brood in the nests, the last generation of bees is ripening. There are more bees around the brood.At this time, they begin the final preparation of families for wintering. When forming nests in families, they remove low-honey, unfinished honeycomb frames, leaving them in the nests as much as the bees hatch them. If there is not enough food in the nests, then it is replenished by feeding the bees with sugar syrup. Sugar feeding of bees is finished no later than September 5-10. Winter stocks in families should be at least 20-25 kg of feed. Each honeycomb frame should have at least 1.5-2 kg of feed.
Do not forget about the treatment of bees against varroatosis. If the size of the winter nest matches the strength of the colony, it is easier for the bees to maintain the desired temperature inside the club. The heat from the surface of the club is radiated into a free space, unoccupied by bees. The larger it is, the more heat will be lost, the more food reserves will be consumed, the more water and CO2 will be released, the rectum will fill up faster, the club will loosen more often, the probability of crystallization of diarrhea in bees will increase, etc. Therefore, it is imperative to leave as many frames in the nests as the bees hatch them. Strong and medium-sized bee colonies are insulated only with upper pillows. Weak ones insulate from the sides. In this case, the pillow should not reach the bottom by 1-2 cm.
For a safe wintering, it is important not only to warm the hive, but also the condition of the entrance. The entrance hole is the only way of direct air exchange between the hive and the external environment. During a period of high activity, bees regulate the temperature and humidity in the hive, when the bees are in the club, the exchange takes place passively, due to the difference in temperature, pressure and spontaneous mixing of gases. Therefore, the entrances in winter should be open as wide as possible, regardless of how the hive roof is insulated. Beekeepers often avoid opening entrances in winter for fear of cold penetration. But a small tap hole becomes the cause of overmoistening of the air in the hive, which is undoubtedly much more harmful than the possible hypothermia of the hive in frosts. In the first half of winter, only the lower summer is opened, and then in the second half of wintering, by 1-2 cm2. the upper notch is also opened (for quick moisture removal). Warming of the hive, the size of the nest, the strength of the families, the fodder reserves, the sanitary condition of the apiary – these are the main indicators on which the course of wintering depends.
Bees can hibernate both in winter houses and outdoors. The advantage of hibernations: less consumption of feed stocks, hives last longer. The temperature in the winter house should be from 0 to +4 0С, air humidity 75-85%. Before you put the hives for the winter, you need to carry out deratization, airing the room. In the open air, we cannot influence the temperature and humidity of the air, but it is absolutely necessary to protect the hive from harsh winds. The hives can be closed from the wind with a film, ruberoid, or moved to a place protected from the wind. Strong winds quickly overcool the hive and can cause poor wintering for families, although families have been properly prepared. Caring for a well-prepared apiary for winter is not difficult.
From time to time, you should check whether the family is not worried about the branch knocking on the roof, whether rodents are getting close to the hive. If tits and woodpeckers are found nearby, the entrances should be covered with bars. A successful wintering is the foundation of all beekeeping. Until you have the confidence that all the families left for the winter will come out alive, vigorous, strong and healthy in the spring, until then all expenses, all sorts of tricks and hopes placed on the future will remain in the full sense of the word futile.