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What the bee keeper does in Winter, while the bees are dormant

Winter is not a ‘down time’ for beekeepers, rather it is the little space of time that we have for reorganizing, cleaning, rebuilding, repainting our woodenware, purchasing new equipment and generally getting ready for the coming year. I have found that beekeeping is not a static learning process, rather it is ongoing and changes each year as I move from getting bees the first year to harvesting honey the second year, to raising queens the next, and so on. Each year brings a new lesson and a new level in the process.

The most important thing the beekeeper does is to learn the way of the hive.  I would invite you to check out the ‘Learning” section of the webpage as there are interesting and helpful items hidden there, also check out the Alabama Beekeepers Web page and read up on the latest information coming from our friends at Auburn where new research is being done. Dig out the books that got you started on this journey and reread the articles you have marked as important information.

This is the time when treatment for Varroa is vital and can be most effective when there is little brood in the frames.   Each beekeeper must choose their own way of maintaining treatments, and make sure to have the equipment or supplies with which to work. Winter is not the time to rest, poor beekeeper but is a time to gather resources and plan for the next season.

Planning is an important tool that the beekeeper must use wisely. If you check the top bar of this page you will find a tool for monitoring the progress of your hives. There are others, but the most important part of monitoring the hives is keeping good records consistently. Memory not as dependable year by year then a notepad and pen along with some ‘crib’ notes that will come in handy when making decisions about the hive. Have your plan made well in advance so that you have the equipment and resources ready when they are needed.

Beekeeping is, like farming, dependant on the weather and the seasons and the weather is ever changing but cyclical. Learning to recognize the growing seasons of the trees and plants, learning the developmental stages of the bees from egg to forager and the laying patterns of the queen is necessary for our education and the success of the hive.