After the Honey is Pulled: Preparing Your Hive for Winter

You had a honey harvest. Your equipment is still sticky from the mess, and you're tired from the lifting, uncapping, spinning, filtering, pouring. Your tea is the sweetest it's been since this time last year. You might be desperate for a break from the bees, but this is a critical time for the hive. Here's what we do in the week following our honey harvest to give our bees the best chance to survive a long northern winter.

Step 1: Assess Hive Strength

The week after pulling honey is the perfect time to do a deep inspection on each of your hives. Here's what you want to see:

  • At least 4 frames of brood in mixed stages

  • Your queen in good shape

  • Eggs

  • No signs of disease (perforated brood caps, dead larvae, deformed wings)

  • Plenty of food stores (pollen and honey)

What if my queen is gone? If your queen is missing, you have two choices. You can either combine the hive with a stronger hive that has a queen, or you can try to find a mated queen to buy and introduce.

What if I don't have enough brood? If you have some eggs and brood but not as much as you'd like, you can feed 1:1 syrup for a week or two to see if the queen starts laying again. She will often stop laying when the natural nectar sources dry up.

What if my hive has very little pollen or honey? Feed, feed, feed! See below!