Will they have enough time before Winter??

Asked August 14, 2019, 12:08 PM EDT

So we found a swarm of bees on August 12th and moved them into a hive that day. Will this be enough time for them to do what they need to do to make it through winter? We are novice when it comes to bees and have been doing tons of research on google lol. We have signed up for the apprentice program and I have called our local OSU extension service and the lady there will be out in a couple of weeks to take a look at the hive and check for mites. But is there anything else we can do to help this colony prepare for the winter? I just feel like they will not have enough time to make the necessary home they need. Any suggestions and help is greatly appreciated. Thanks Amy

Jefferson County Oregon

1 Response

Hi Amy, congratulations on catching your first swarm! That must have been super exciting and kind of scary for someone new to beekeeping.

There is a wide variety of information via the internet some of it is good and some of it is not so good. You made an excellent decision to enroll in the OSU Master Beekeeper program. You will receive sound information. You should consider purchasing and reading the text for the course, The Beekeeper’s Handbook by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile, prior to the classes starting in late January/early February.

Your next step is to attend the upcoming meeting of Central Oregon Beekeepers Association. They meet on August 27. The link will give you directions. They will help guide you and answer your 101 questions.

The first and second resources I recommend are free to download from the Honey Bee Health Coalition. Best Management Practices for Hive Health is an excellent publication which contains a variety of topics ranging from honey bee nutrition to apiary and hive maintenance. The second resource is Tools for Varroa Management which has the latest research regarding the exotic parasite, Varroa destructor. Your bees will have Varroa that rode along with them when they swarmed. You need to know how badly they are infested, which is why the lady from the Extension service said she will come test them for you after they have settled into their new home. While you wait, watch the videos that are linked in the “Tools for Varroa Management” and purchase some mite treatment.

What you can do to help this colony prepare for winter is to feed them starting today and ending in mid October when it is too cool for liquid syrup. Purchase a feeder, either a hive top feeder or a division board feeder. Do not use a Boardman feeder which sits in the entrance of the hive. Put a robbing screen on your hive so they don’t get robbed by other honey bees or by yellowjackets. They will both be attracted to the syrup.

Right now, mix up simple syrup of 1:1 white sugar to water. Do not use brown sugar, powdered sugar, turbinado sugar, honey, or anything other than plain old white sugar. Keep the feeder full at all times. This will stimulate the bees to draw wax comb and also stimulate the queen to lay eggs.

Also at this time, feed the bees pollen substitute patties. Any of the bee supply companies have them, just order and start feeding.

After the bees have drawn combs switch to feeding them 2:1 sugar to water syrup. It works best if you boil the water, remove the pot from heat then stir in the sugar until it all dissolves. Keep feeding until the weather cools. The members of the local bee clubs will give you more definite times for switching to the thicker syrup.

After it is too cool for syrup, mix up some fondant. Here is the link to another excellent source of information; Master Beekeeper Rusty Burlew has a blog, Honey Bee Suite, which contains information on a variety of topics. This link is for making fondant.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Keep learning and enjoy this new adventure!