Preparing Beehives For Winter, NEW methods – Beekeeping 101 – GardenFork

– Hey, everyone, we’re
in Brooklyn, New York, and this is our urban bees that we’re getting ready
for the wintertime. This is 2016, so these
methods may be antiquated by the time you’re watching this video. But it’s what we’re doing this year to get the bees ready for winter. And the hardest part of beekeeping, I think, is getting them
through a New England winter. So let me walk you through
what we’re gonna do here. – [Brian] Wait. Why would it be antiquated
in two years or three years? – Well, we’re gonna use a mite
treatment using oxalic acid, and in a couple years, there
might be a new mite treatment or we might not even have
to treat for mites anymore, or they might invent some
kind of new winter feed, or something like that. But anyway, let’s go through this. The first thing we do is we
wrap the hives in polystyrene. It’s a building insulation. It’s not cheap, but it works really well, and you cut it once, and
it’ll last for years. So Brian was cutting that. The idea here is that
the front and the back, and the sides, all have a snug fit, so the polystyrene is right up
against the wood of the hive. But be sure to leave plenty of room at the front entrance of the hive. Don’t let the polystyrene
block the front entrance or the upper entrance to your hive. – [Brian] Well, tell me
why the front entrance, why is that so important? – Well, the bees need to
be able to get in and out, and they usually go out the bottom. But then, if there’s too much snow, that entrance can get closed. And if it’s a warm day, and they want to go out to
have a cleansing flight, because they don’t poop in the hive, we have the upper entrance
holes so they can go out there. So just make sure your insulation isn’t covering either one of those. So the first thing we
do is we’re taking off the liquid sugar syrup feeders
that have been on all fall. We’ve been feeding, and feeding,
and feeding all fall long. We take those off, and then, we do an oxalic
acid dribble treatment. They’ll be a link at the end
of the show for that video. But we put 50 milliliters
of this oxalic acid in each hive using just the syringe thing. You’ll get a feel for how to do it. There’s a great video I did about that. Of course, it’s great. And then, I’m gonna lay down
these winter sugar patties, which are moister than
the dry sugar we’re using, and I thought, well, let’s just
see if that works this year. I just think providing as much food as possible for the bees, because we’ve had bees
starve on us before. So I lay down two of those patties, and if I can, I pull the
wax covering off the patty, and I lay that down. Next, I put down a sheet
of regular newspaper. Make sure the newspaper doesn’t cover the whole top of the hive. You want like an inch
around the whole thing. And then, I lay on– – [Brian] Why is that, why
do you need an inch around? – So they get around the
newspaper to get to the sugar. They will chew through the
newspaper to get to the sugar, but if it’s open around the edges, they can just go around
and get it, as well, a little easier. By the end of the year, if
they’ve eaten the sugar, they’ll remove all that newspaper because they’re super
fastidious in the hive. But I just lay down about
four pounds of sugar. – [Man] So white, can’t see. – [Brian] I know, it’s like it’s the mesh in front of our eyes. – And then, on top of that, I custom made these winter insulated covers. You don’t have to do that. You can just use a spacer rim, a piece of polystyrene, and
your regular outer cover. Again, there’s another
video I made about that. The links are down here
and at the end of the show. And then, we just strap
the heck out the hive. We strap the polystyrene around it, we strap the hive to its hive stand, and we’re gonna strap it to the chimney on the roof, as well. If you’re doing this in your yard, get some of those stakes
that screw into the ground, usually, for like a dog leash, and you can strap onto those. But if your hive falls over, first of all, you don’t
want it to fall over, but it does, it will stay together. We made a video about that because wind blew over one of my hives, and I saved the hive
because I strapped it. – [Brian] During the winter, are we gonna check to see
if they still have food? – If we get a day above 40 degrees, we’ll come up here and check it out. I’ve done that, and in real life, they’re
eating all the sugar, and I’ve poured more dry sugar on top. But, usually, using this
whole method I’ve figured out, this winterization method, I haven’t had to do that. Only once did I have to
put more sugar on top. But if it’s below 40, I do
not suggest opening the hive. But, again, I’m just your amateur guy. Other people might have
opinions about that, and I’m sure they’ll tell me
about it in the comments, here. – [Brian] And how many bees will survive throughout the winter? – I don’t know. I would say it’s 30% of
the summer population. In the fall, the queen stops laying, the number of brood drops. When it’s this cold,
they’re not laying brood, and that’s why you put
the oxalic acid on now, is because the oxalic
acid only treats mites that are on bees not in the comb. And a lot of the larva have
mites on them in the comb, so if we’re doing it in the
late fall, early winter, there isn’t any brood and the
oxalic acid can do its thing. So there you go. And other questions, Brian? – [Brian] What are the
chances that both of these or one of these will survive this winter? – For me, it’s like 30%. We have a 30% hive fatality rate. Just sometimes, the mite load is too much. I’m not super aggressive
with our mite treatments. We do one mite treatment in
the late fall every year, and that’s been good for us. We have the screened bottom board. In the winter, we close
that screened bottom board, I think that’s really important. And you do everything you can, and then you just cross your fingers. Beekeeping, it’s farming. You will lose animals. But anyway, I just want
to share that with you. Again, we’re just amateur beekeepers documenting what we’re doing here. If you guys have any
questions or comments, always love to hear from
you in the comments below. And watch all our other beekeeping videos. There should be a link right here or up in here somewhere to do that. Alright, so make it a great day. Thank you, Brian, for helping me. See you.
– [Brian] Thank you.


  1. If you follow the all natural bee keeping method you will not need treat with anything after a couple of years. Yes you will loose a few hives but the end product is a strong, self sufficient hive.

  2. great advice for wintering your bees!! No need to winterize my bees this year…. damn bear. 2 new hives coming next spring though. Can't wait.

  3. Very informative, and entertaining. I do not have bees, I enjoyed thoroughly enjoyed the video
    Ah, snarky interviewer unavailable? She always keeps it real
    Brian, I don't think we have met. Feel Like introducing yourself? Or, one man show? No worries, either way.
    Why mess with a good thing? If it ain't broke, fix something else, that is broke?

  4. Having and upper and lower entrance in winter also aids in air flow to keep the hive from getting too damp from condensation. I use Cedar shavings on top for insulation and moisture control. I never feed sugar to my bees. Only real honey and real pollen.

  5. I don't agree that 1st time beekeepers shouldn't "teach", this gave me hope that maybe we can do this. Thank you!

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