Winter Prep #2
We like to have fat bees with lots of food stored for the winter.
Your bees need 80-100 pounds of honey to have the best shot at getting through the winter.
One way to weigh is the 'grunt test.' Lift on each side. Why both? Sometimes the bees put up honey unevenly so while one side would be heavy the other would be light. Do you have to ‘grunt’ when lifting both? Then the hive is ready. Admittedly this is more artful than factual.
You can count frames of honey. Does the top deep have 10 frames full of honey? That would be about 80 pounds. Any in the bottom box? The bees will probably not take kindly to their hive being torn apart like this, though.
The most accurate method is to actually weigh the hive. We have a scale which will do it. It is small and compact. It weighs the hive from the back. This hive at 133 pounds is fantastic!
Some beekeepers leave a super of honey on their hive. Honey is their natural food. Come spring the queen will likely have laid brood in that super. It could be left go hoping the queen will move down, the brood hatch out and the bees fill it with honey. Or the queen will need to be found and put below and a queen excluder added.
Other beekeepers feed them 2:1 sugar:water syrup.
If you have access to high fructose corn syrup that's a good option, too. It is composed of fructose and glucose just like natural honey. The store it and don't have to dry it down.
Feed them until they are heavy. It is a long way to spring.