We know that winter is the selector of great stock. Colonies whose genetics and preparations are strong will survive, while those weaker or less productive colonies will die. That being said, there are many things we, as beekeepers, can do to set the colonies up for success. Below is a list of things that we do in our yards to maintain successful colonies over winter:
Caution: If you are a beekeeper, your opinions may differ, and probably will!
This blog contains the steps we take to get our colonies though winter. There are many other options. Some may do more, others may do less. The over-wintering argument is one of those topics that really spells out the "art" of beekeeping over the science. For every beeekeeper you find who swears by doing one winter prep task, you'll find 2 more who swear against it. Utilize this information to draw your own conclusions and decisions.
Why bees die over winter
Winter losses are a multifactorial reality for beekeepers, especially those who endure some form of winter months (beekeepers in Florida, move on). In our experience: Many of the losses we see during spring deadout cleanings appear to be from the following (in order):
Lack of food stores