Busy As A Bee

Beekeepers prepare for winter –

As farmers are finishing up their corn harvest and preparing for the long, cold winter, local beekeepers are also working to prepare their colonies for the brutal weather that is all too common in our area.

One key concern of local beekeepers is how to overwinter their hives so that they can maintain a healthy, active hive with resilient population of bees.

The queen bee in a colony is the most important factor in keeping the bee hive. The queen is the only bee that lays eggs, which are the future of the hive.

If the queen is lost or dies, an emergency situation is created inside the hive, because the hive cannot survive without a queen. The hive is capable of producing its own new queen, but this process must already have begun before the queen is gone.

When the queen is lost, there is a good chance the hive will “swarm” and leave. Swarming is when an entire colony of bees leaves the hive and goes in search of a new hive and a new queen.

Obviously, keeping a healthy queen that will produce future bees for the hive is critical to beekeepers.

Many beekeepers buy queen bees from other areas. Tim Olsen, a bee keeper and educator from Luverne, buys his queen bees from California. However, he would rather raise queen bees that are more suited for the local climate than bees from warmer areas.

He is working with the Northwest Iowa Beekeepers Association, an organization he leads, to conduct research on ways to help local beekeepers overwinter their hives and keep resilient bees reproducing here.

For the complete article, please see the November 22nd edition of the Edgerton Enterprise. If you do not currently receive the Enterprise, CLICK HERE for information on how to subscribe!

Olsen provides a sugar/water mix in jars for his bees to eat as they prepare for winter. He also puts out pollen patties (lower shelf) for them to feed on.

Tim Olsen demonstrates his “double nuc” system of keeping bees. He uses two smaller boxes instead of one larger box for overwintering his bees. The smaller boxes help the bees conserve energy.