Winter is Coming, Protect your Bees.

honey bees

Fall is underway, and as temperatures drop and the rains (hopefully) begin to roll in, there are a number of garden tasks to complete now that will prepare your space for Winter and even Spring.

Around the bee hives

– Check for colony size and combine small ones. Come spring it is better to have one live colony than two dead ones.
– Assure that the honey frames are in the right place, that is, they should be on both sides of the cluster and above it in a Langstroth hive. Move frames around if necessary. In a top-bar hive, put the cluster at one end of the hive and put the honey frames next to the cluster on the other side. This way, the colony can move laterally in one direction to find food.
– Reduce hive entrances if you haven’t already. It’s time for mice and other small creatures to find a snug and warm overwintering place—one filled with honey is especially attractive.
– Remove weedy vegetation from the base of the hive. Vegetation is a convenient hiding place for creatures who may want to move into the hive and it can be used like an entrance ramp or stepladder.

– Put a wintergreen grease patty in each hive. Grease patties won’t control a large mite infestation, but they can slow the increase of mites during the winter months.

Around the back yard
– Plant new trees and shrubs along with cool-season annuals. Fall is one of the best times to plant perennials.
– Build your compost pile up with a mix of carbon-rich browns and nitrogen-rich greens that will break down over the winter and be ready for use in the spring. Be sure to keep the compost moist and well-aerated.
– Cut back and divide leggy perennials (think Aster’s and Salvia’s).
– Deadhead most plants that are done flowering.
– As plants slow down, stop fertilizing. Water as necessary and consider turning off irrigation systems.

Discover our Teacher Bee Toolkit and our special page on the Coastal and Native Bees.

By Chris Jadallah, Undergraduate Assistant from the UC Berkeley Urban Bee Lab and from the Honey Bee Suite website.

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