Comprehensive Guide to Fall Management and Overwintering in Apimaye Insulated Beehives

Fall Management and Overwintering in Apimaye Insulated Beehives


The months following honey harvest are crucial for beekeepers, with practices varying depending on your location. This guide provides a structured approach to preparing your bee colonies in Apimaye hives for the winter.

Pre-Winter Checklist


  • Northern States: Begin as early as August
  • Southern States: Begin as late as October or November

Inspection After Harvest

  1. Presence of Queen: Ensure that a queen is present in the hive. If not, refer to detailed scenarios A-C under "What to do in a queenless hive" blog post
  2. Varroa Mite Treatment: Start treatment right after the honey harvest. Recheck in September; if levels are still above 2-3%, treat again.
  3. Feed Colonies: Use a 1:1 sugar syrup ratio for early fall and a 2:1 ratio for late fall. Supplements like HiveAlive can be added to the syrup. 

Detailed Guidelines

Queen Management

Refer to our blog post, for detailed steps on managing a queenless hive. Make sure to remove the queen excluder. The bees expand the cluster by moving up and sideways to access honey stores in the winter. When they move up into a super, the queen can not move with them if there is a queen excluder, leading to the queen dying of cold or starvation.

Food Stores

  1. Honey: Ensure 10-15 frames of honey in colder climates like NY. Nucs need about 8 deep frames (40-50 lbs). Check out our post about how to place the brood and honey frames based on the colony sizes and Apimaye equipment you have
  2. Sugar Syrup in the fall: Fall feeding is extremely important for brood production and successful overwintering. Fall bees have more fat bodies and vitellogenin in the blood (hemolymphs) and those bees live longer than the summer bees. If honey stores are low, keep feeding sugar syrup as they consume the syrup. Add supplements if necessary. If you have the Dual Feeder, you can put pollen or fondant patties in the center of the feeder.
  3. Granulated Sugar & Fondant in the winter: Beekeepers in northern states have been putting granulated sugar in their feeders, and setting the feed selector caps in Candy setting. The granulated sugar would not only act as food source, but also absorb the moisture. You can put additional patties under the feeders. If you have the dual feeders, you can put the fondant in the center compartment, and even swap them as needed if you have extra dry feed covers and making your fondant at home.

Colony Health

  1. Varroa Mite: Continue with treatments, ensuring infestation is below 2-3% by September.
  2. Disease Signs: Inspect for diseases, treating as necessary.

Hive Strength

  • Aim for at least 8-10 frames of bees in full-sized hives and at least 3-5 frames in Apimaye 7-frame nucs. Weak colonies can not survive in the temperate or cold climates. If the colonies are weak they can not reach the food stores on the periphery and will die. Check out our blog post on how to place brood and honey frames.

Location, Securing, and Additional Insulation

  • Make sure the hive entrances are facing south, and the hives have as much sun exposure as possible.
  • Use windbreaks like hay bales or relocate hives if in windy conditions.
  • Ensure all the supers and the top cover are latched together.
  • If you have black bears in the area, it is also wise to strap the hives down. The top cover has a strap groove. 
  • In extreme cold, place a reflective foil insulation above the feeder. If you have an extra Apimaye insulated super, put it on top of the feeder, fill the remaining space in the super with burlap, or a bag/pillowcase filled with absorbing material like pine shavings to minimize condensation. Make sure to latch the top cover to the super using the upper groove in the top cover.

Winter Monitoring

  • Do not open the hive during the winter. Only check if there is food in the feeders by just removing the top cover of the feeder without disturbing the bees.

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