We have harvested all the capped honey from our hives and now we must ensure our colonies make it through winter. Luke calls the candy boards insurance for our bees because it is much cheaper to winter the colonies with sugar bricks than to let them potentially starve to death over winter. Winterizing overall is a simple enough process.
First, we began by making the candy boards themselves that hold the candy bricks on the top of the hives. We used leftover pine planks that I had purchased for my homes wood flooring to create a frame. This wood is untreated and would not harm the bees in any way. Then the frame was lined with quarter-inch hardware cloth so that the candy bricks could rest on top of the frames gently. Then we lined the bottom of the frames with a door sealant to ensure no gaps would allow air to chill the colony.
After a frame was made for each hive we went to making the sugar bricks to place within. The fall sugar to water ratios are 12:1, we got the sugar just wet enough to mix and then laid the mixture out on wax paper and patted them into a shape that would fit within the boards once dry. Luke and I were sticky after making all the sugar brick and the bees were definitely curious as to why we smelled so sweet and delicious. The bricks took a few days to dry by the wood stove. We could have baked them in the oven but we simply didn’t think of it.
We opened the hives and placed the frame within, hardware cloth down and then added a brick of sugar. This will allow the bees to travel up and eat as the temperatures continue to drop. This helps the bees on really cold days when they can not travel too far from the cluster onto another frame they can simply head up as a group and eat. As an added safety measure we added burlap blankets on top of the sugar to keep moisture levels down.
Before we added the lids back to the hives we created additional upper entrances to help with moisture and ventilation as well. Then the lids were replaced and the hive was wrapped up in a reflective bubble wrap typically used to insulate hot water tanks. The goal is to get all of the hives alive to next Spring. I think this will do it!