It’s nearly time to close those beehives for the winter months. Rachel Halliwell photo

Buzz on bees: Winterize your hives and set up off-season projects

As we come to the end of summer, the majority of pollinators you see in your garden are hoards of wasps attracted to your backyard dinners or fallen fruits. The abundance of bumblebees has dwindled and honeybees seldom make an appearance – fall is fast approaching.

At this point of the season, you want to remove that excess honey box we discussed in the previous article and ensure your mite load is being managed. Since flowers are few and far between, I would suggest supplement feeding sugar water and pollen patty until you officially close up the hive for the wintering season. We supplement feed in the fall because while the weather is still sunny, the bees are actually quite active. They need to consume lots of food to maintain their energy. By supplement feeding, you provide fuel for the bees without the need for the hive to dip into their winter stores.

Once we’ve closed the hives for winter and long for those warmer days, there are a few things we can do to keep us connected to the bees. Winter is a great time to build hive equipment needed for the following season. It may seem like a mundane task but when the rainy weather consumes our Valley you might appreciate nailing together hive frames with foundation coated in that sweet-smelling beeswax. And even though spring seems far away, when warmer weather welcomes the Valley once again, you will appreciate that you were productive and well prepared for the spring chaos of swarms and splitting hives!

The winter season is also the perfect time to take a course. If you’re interested in becoming a new member of the beekeeping community, I would suggest keeping your eye out for upcoming courses of workshops. I will be hosting a workshop for new beekeepers in the winter months (keep an eye out on my website or send me an email to be placed on a notification list) or check the Comox Valley Beekeeping Association. There is an incredible amount of information to know about our local pollinators and enrolling in courses is a wonderful way to gain a foundation, meet fellow enthusiasts and acquire mentors for the following season.

Since this is my last Buzz on Bees article for the season, feel free to email me with any beekeeping questions as we move into winter. Winter can be difficult for bees and I have plenty of helpful tips!

Rachel Halliwell is a Bee Master Certified beekeeper in the Comox Valley. Her website is

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