Sunday night saw our first dip near freezing since last winter. While Central Texas temperatures can fluctuate greatly in December from freezing to high in the 70’s, Austin beekeepers should be making their final preparations for the upcoming winter months.
I’d recommend having 4-5 medium supers on your hive to maximize your chances for a successful over-wintering with two of those mostly being honey stores. It is not too late to get some last minute feeding in if you feel the hive does not have enough socked away.
Ventilation is also extremely important. As bees warm the hive, condensation can form on the inner cover and then drip down cold water back into the hive. Flipping over the standard inner cover or propping open the cover with some popsicle sticks allows the warmer humid air to escape. It also allows the girls to add or remove propolis as they see fit to regulate the temperature.
I’ve never been one to wrap my hives for winter. It just doesn’t get that cold for that long here in Austin, and if my bees can’t survive a Texas winter without a wrapped hive, they don’t need to be part of the genetic pool.
That’s about it. Don’t forget to order new equipment and bees if you are starting new hives next year, and enjoy the next few months off before the Spring craziness starts.