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A beekeeper’s work is never done… except perhaps in the off season. But you have to prepare for that. That is what Patsy Cahalan is doing in these photos.

The hives need a last inspection to make sure that they have enough feed to get them through the winter and a little space left over to accommodate the Ivy honey that they would doubtless want to make. They also needed to be reduced from two brood boxes to one for the winter.

On this day (28 August 2017) Patsy had some help with the hives today from Sinéad O’Dwyer, Ian Speirs, and Seán Duffy, who united two weaker hives with stronger ones.

Preparing Hives for Winter – A Checklist

  • Mites should be dealt with already or this month at the latest
  • Remove Supers. If you need to leave a super of honey to get the bees through the winter, remember to remove the queen excluder
  • Ensure there is a laying queen. If there is not and one is not available, unite the colony with another
  • Unite weak colonies with each other or with stronger colonies
  • Check they have enough honey to last the winter and that it is positioned where they can easily get to it. If there is not enough, feed heavily with a 2 to 1 syrup. When the weather gets colder, you cannot feed syrup as it may cause dampness in the hive, if necessary you can feed fondant later in the winter if the colony is short
  • Reduce the entrance and add a mouse-guard
  • Tidy up around the hive so as not to have creatures lurking nearby ready to break in when times are hard
  • If dampness is a problem in your area, add an eke with a quilt and ensure that it is well ventilated
  • Shelter your hive from the worst of high winds and strap it down
  • If flooding is a possibility, move your hives to higher ground now while you have the chance