Beekeepers Prepping Their Hives for Winter

When winter rolls around, bears hibernate, birds fly south, but what about the bees? Like every other creature on Earth, bees have their own unique ways of coping with the cold during the winter season. Tim Wilbanks is owner of Heritage Honeybee. He explains more about how beekeepers are working hard to take care of these busy bees.

Making sure that colonies are treated for mites. That mite treatment started should have started for most beekeepers back in the spring through the summer, ending up here in the fall, usually in October, and early November that’s being wrapped up. So then feeding, making sure that if a hive doesn’t have adequate honey stores that the beekeeper is feeding to get those food stores into that colony. Going into winter here in Wisconsin, you need a minimum of 60 pounds of extra food, either stored honey or stored sugar syrup.

While some beekeepers are preparing their hives for the winter in places like Wisconsin, others are preparing their bees to handle warmer states like the Carolinas.

Their winter prep is getting their bees ready to go to another state: Florida, Texas, California. And so for those beekeepers, some of them have maybe even already left, others are getting their colonies palletized or getting them brought back in to holding yards so that they can load them on the semis and very soon within the next few weeks, the bees will be trucked. Like I said, warmer states where they’re going to overwinter them, they may have an operation down there. They may have other opportunities for pollination or something like in California coming up next spring, and those bees will be moved into those warmer climates to be built up throughout the wintertime in those warmer climates and be ready for spring pollination.

And naturally, beekeeping and agriculture go hand in hand.

Honey bees being the most manageable insect pollinator are directly or indirectly related to close to 1/3 of the food supply here in the US, that’s produced here in the US. Now that doesn’t mean that one out of every three bites is directly related to honeybees. It means honey bees are closely related to the production of that, and what I might mean by that (is) it can be direct pollination of an almond bloom on an almond tree by a honeybee that results in an almond nut that somebody might consume. It might also be pollination of alfalfa seed that’s then grown as a livestock feed for feeding out beef cattle.