Brun Ko Farm
Soon after honey harvest, NP started preparing the bees for winter. Honey bees are not native to Iowa and our cold winters can be tough! Luckily honey bees adapt well and they do some of their own winter prep work too! Bees prep for winter by kicking out the drones, aka the male bees. The drones serve no other purpose than to fertilize the queen and so rather than feed the extra mouths through the winter, the workers bees kick the boys out! Bees are also really good at self regulating the temperature inside the hive. In the winter they keep the hive between 93 & 96 degrees Fahrenheit. They do this by forming a cluster and flapping their wings and shivering. Because bees need to stay warm it is also important to not open the hive on cold days! NP uses a guideline of 50 degrees F or warmer.
Although bees are pretty good at taking care of themselves, honey bees are not native to Iowa and they need some help from us humans. We leave a good amount of honey with the bees as this is their food for the winter. However, NP also supplements the honey supply with sugar and protein patties. He also put a mouse guard in the opening of the hive. A mouse guard reduces the size of the hive opening so that mice can’t get through it. Mice are always looking for a warm place in the winter and what better place than a protected hive full of yummy honey?! Bees can actually kill mice but they really need to conserve energy through the winter months so a mouse guard really helps!
Remember all of that heat the bees generate by wriggling their bodies? Well, all that work also creates a lot of moisture inside of the hive. This can be a real problem if the moisture can’t escape. Beekeepers have several methods of helping the bees with this problem. NP and a neighboring beekeeper got together this fall and they constructed moisture control/ventilation boxes. These boxes have a screen on the bottom and are filled with cedar wood chips. The wood chips absorb the moisture from the hive and the moisture then escapes through holes drilled into the side of the box.
Brun Ko Farm
If you liked this blog - check out our previous post about honey harvest!
Just a woman with a passion for the animals, the land, and feeding people!