What Happens During the Fall with Bees?
Fall is a Busy and Delicate Time for Bee Colonies
When it comes to bee colonies, fall is a busy time. Worker bees labor long hours to collect enough nectar to prepare for the winter. Fall may also be considered the most dangerous season for bees. Starvation can occur and harvesting comes with a number of risks which include, killing the queen accidentally, harvesting too much honey, and failing to keep rodents or mice out of the hive. Any of these issues may mean the difference between a thriving hive next year or a failed one.
Fall Starvation May Occur
According to a national survey conducted in 2015, commercial beekeepers lost 32% of their colonies and backyard beekeepers lost 52% of their colonies. During the fall, starvation aside from harvesting can occur because of environmental conditions. It is natural for the population to diminish, the drones to not return to the hive, and product to decrease. Cooler weather limits the number of hours a bee is able to work and the hive. Older bees die off and younger bees prepare to live through the winter. At a temperature of about 57 degrees Fahrenheit, bees start to form a tight cluster.
To prevent starvation, many beekeepers feed sugar water and pollen patties to the bees.
Accidentally Killing the Queen During Harvesting
Any time a hive is tampered with, the chances of killing the queen increase. Beekeepers must identify their queen to prevent killing the most important bee in the hive. In the fall, many drones are dead because of the population naturally decreasing which means it isn’t possible for the replacement queen to lay eggs.
Harvesting Too Much Honey
Stored honey keeps bees alive from one year to the next. If beekeepers are too aggressive in removing honey from the hive, bees won’t be able to live through the winter and a colony will not thrive next year. It is tempting to remove as much honey from the hives as possible but is necessary to leave a food supplies for the bees. The average hive needs 60 to 80 pounds of honey to live through the winter.
Mice and Mites Causing Problems
Just like in a home, mice and mites cause problems with bee hives. Mice like to hide in hives when it is cold and feast on dead bees. Hives should have entrances at the smallest possible setting during the fall and winter. Mites spread throughout a bee population quickly, so beekeepers must keep an eye out for them.
Harvesting honey and selling it to consumers is a delicate process. The fall is an essential season for any beekeeper. Georgia Honey Farm has been in the beekeeping industry for over 27 years. Our team is composed of highly-skilled beekeepers who dedicate their time and knowledge to create the best conditions for our honey bees during every season to be able to produce the finest honey for you.