Now that October is here, you can officially start celebrating the start of the fall season. The first full month of autumn usually brings to mind pumpkin patches, Halloween costumes, and rich fall foliage. However, as a beekeeper, you know that there’s more to October than spooky decorations and pumpkin spice lattes. This time of the year is also crucial to maintaining your beehive throughout the fall.
To keep your hive in top condition all season long, there are a few key guidelines to remember. From properly inspecting your bees to checking for honey reserves, each step you take is crucial to protecting your hive from damage. Follow these October beekeeping tips to keep your bees safe and healthy and make the most of the fall season.
Check the Honey Reserves
While some bees may already have enough food to last until the spring, others might not be as well prepared. Be sure to take the time to check the honey reserves in your hive and confirm that there’s enough to tide your bees over.
The ideal amount of honey that your bees need depends on the type of climate you live in. If you reside in a cold, northern climate, make sure there are at least 60 pounds of honey inside your beehive. For warmer climates, it’s best to aim for 30 to 40 pounds of honey in total. Make sure to give plenty of thought to your specific hive size before you check your honey reserves.
Provide Extra Food
If your honey reserves are lacking, it’s vital to provide your bees with an extra food source to get them through the cold weather. This helps to ensure that they have the strength they need throughout the chilly winter months. There are many different supplemental food sources that you can choose from, but the most common ones include dry sugar, sugar boards, winter patties, and feeding spacers.
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to have these extra food sources prepared by late November. Supplying your bees with the nutrition they need in October is crucial to ensuring that they make it through the winter.
Inspect Your Bees
As simple as it sounds, this is one of the most important October beekeeping tips to keep in mind for the fall season. By carefully examining your beehive, you can determine what condition your bees are in and whether they’re prepared for the winter ahead.
First, be sure to check on your queen bee. Queen bees typically set themselves apart from the rest of the hive with their long, thin bodies and pointed abdomens. If your queen isn’t present in the hive, don’t wait too long to find a replacement. Adding a new queen to your hive in October ensures that the queen has adequate time to settle in and lay eggs.
To handle your queen bee carefully, be sure to choose a reliable queen catcher. This convenient product lets you pick up your queen by hand whenever you need to while staying protected.
Keep Your Hive Healthy
To ensure that your bees stay strong through the fall and winter, it’s important to work hard to keep them healthy during October. Bees can be susceptible to a number of serious illnesses, particularly viruses spread by Varroa mites. Varroa mites can wreak havoc on a hive just by attacking a single bee. Once a mite attaches to a bee’s body, it slowly strips away the fat bodies inside the bee, weakening the insect as a result.
While it’s nearly impossible to eliminate Varroa mites completely, you can still put together a plan to keep as many mites away from your hive as you can. By keeping your bees free of illness at the start of fall, you can help build the foundation for a healthy hive in the long run.
Bees are strongest in groups, and the best way to enhance your entire bee population is to optimize each hive. If you have any particularly weak hives, focus on combining these hives into stronger ones. Additionally, if any of your beehives have an excess of empty space, don’t miss out on the opportunity to address this weak spot. Hives with too much empty space should be carefully restructured to allow enough room for your strongest bees.
Adapt to the Weather
One of the most important October beekeeping tips to follow is adapting your hive to the changing seasons. As you get deep into autumn and begin to approach winter, the temperatures will be dropping quickly. It’s your job to ensure that your bees stay healthy and receive the support they need during the colder months.
An important step to take in the cold weather is to insulate your beehive. If you live in an especially cold climate, this precaution could be the determining factor in keeping your bees alive. The more comfortable these insects are, the more prepared they’ll be for the cold weather that awaits them.
There are many ways to properly insulate your hive from frigid temperatures. A hive stand can help protect your bees from the cold while preventing moisture problems. Alternatively, you can wrap your hive in black tar paper to absorb heat from the sun and keep your bees comfortable. Just remember to leave the hive entrance and upper ventilation holes uncovered to ensure that your bees aren’t trapped inside the hive.
Keep Your Beehive Prepared for Fall With October Beekeeping Tips
Protecting your beehive throughout the fall and winter months is a process that takes time and patience. Once you stock up on the best tools and follow the right precautions, you’ll help your bees stay strong and healthy as soon as the cold weather hits. Remember to put in all the hard work now so that you can reap the benefits of a healthy hive during the rest of the year.
For beekeeping equipment and educational materials, visit our online store.