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Monday, November 15, 2010

Getting bees ready for winter


Last week I spent some time getting my bee hives ready for winter. One thing I did was make sugar patties. You take 1 part sugar and one part water to make a simple syrup.

Make sure all the sugar is dissolved, then start adding powdered sugar until you can roll it like dough.

This is a sugar patty. Sounds simple, but it's very messy and takes a lot longer than you think. I have 11 hives, so I need 11 patties. My friend, Kathleen, e-mailed me and said she ended up with way more patties than she needed and do I want some? Are you kidding me?! YES!

Vinh, the younger guy that stays at my house after school (I've been watching him and his brother since they were babies) helped me get my hives in the back yard ready for winter.

These guys grew up with honey bees, so helping me in the hive is no big deal.

Then you have to quickly get into the hives and put the sugar patty in them. You just lay it across the top of the frames.
See the unpainted board towards the bottom of the hive behind me? That is an entrance reducer. It reduces the size of the entrance (makes sense) so mice and other little critters cannot get into the hives. Mice love hives in the winter because there is lots of food and it's warm. They'll destroy a hive in no time. I had my Shug make some better entrance reducers for me than the ones that came with the hives. I put those on all of the hives as well.

All hives ready for winter and no stings!!! WOOHOO!! I did have to walk away from a couple of them though.
To explain the sugar patty a bit....It helps feed the bees throughout the winter months. I used to order candy boards, which are similar, but when I got more hives, ordering candy boards wasn't feasible. $20.00 a board. So, I make these now. Honey bees do not use sugar to make honey. This is simply food for them if they run out of honey this winter. Most bees will die of disease, mites, or starvation in our winter months. I try very hard to make sure they have enough to eat. I never take food from the bottom hive bodies. The supers are the shorter boxes above the hive bodies. I only take honey from the supers. The thing is, this year we had such a perfect April and May that everything was blooming. Bees were making honey like crazy. So much so, that I extracted it to give them more room to work. (note to self -order more supers for next year.) Well, when we got the drought, which is still in effect, there wasn't enough nectar in the plants for the bees to make more honey. So they started eating the honey they stored for the winter. That's why we feed them as much as we can. The problem is, they will not leave the brood in the winter months, if it is cold, to eat. So they will starve to death if we don't get some warm weather. Last winter was tough, I hope this one is better for them.


  1. You are such a loving, sweet person to care for all creatures... even the bees. I love your bee posts.

  2. Sure am learning a lot about bees from you. It is all interesting. But still no bee keeping for me.

  3. I love these posts! I don't know how on earth you do what you do but I sure love reading about it and seeing all of your pictures! :)

  4. How long does one sugar paddy last one hive?

  5. Hi Unknown,
    It just depends on how the weather holds out and how much honey was left in their hive for the winter. I left enough honey, that they shouldn't run out. I gave them the candy board just in case. It should last them until spring. The first warm day in spring I will check to see if they need more and start feeding if necessary.

    Cindy Bee


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