The Des Moines Backyard Beekeepers is a beekeeping club for Des Moines area beekeepers that meets once a month. I really enjoy their meetings because often it is a smaller group and the meetings are more discussions than presentations. The DMBB’s August meeting was about winter preparation. Yes, August is when beekeepers start preparing for winter.
In August and September, hives should be treated for varroa mites. Hives should be treated so that the bees before the winter bees treated. This helps make the winter bees stronger bees. Hives should be fed 2:1 sugar syrup after they have been treated for varroa mites. Often beekeepers will put their wet supers (frames of honey in supers that have been extracted) back on the hives for the bees to take. The supers will be placed between the inner cover and the outer cover. The bees see this as outside their hive so they take the honey and store it in the deeps. After the bees pull down the honey, the supers should be frozen then stored. Some beekeepers store their supers in garbage bags, some store the supers in a freezer, and some store supers in totes. Robbing screens should be put on hives in September or when there is not nectar readily available.
In October or November, the hive should be prepped for winter. Entrances reducers should be put on when it gets to be about fifty degrees during the day. In Iowa, mice often take up residence in beehives. To prevent mice from moving in, a mouse guards can be put on. Mouse guards are metal pieces with bee sized holes in them. Quilt boxes can be placed on hives. Quilt boxes are boxes that have hardware clothe for a bottom with wood chips above the hardware clothe and sometimes a clothe on top. Quilt boxes go above the top deep and under the outer cover. No inner cover is used with a quilt box. Quilt boxes help prevent condensation from dripping down on the bees. Bees do not die over winter because of cold. Moisture is a one of the reasons bees can die during the winter.
As always, beekeepers in Iowa will do things differently from beekeepers in any other state.