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What's Going On In Our Beehives During October?

In general, what’s going on during the month of October?

The queen has reduced egg laying dramatically. There will be only a small cluster of brood cells remaining in the hive. The worker bees will be actively evicting the drones from the hive. The bees will prepare the hive for winter by collecting larger amounts of propolis to coat the inside of the frames and any openings, cracks or crevices. The hives will be more difficult to open and inspect because of the propolis.

Local conditions in Louisa County area and recommendations

Weather has been been hot and muggy during the last half of August with continued above average moisture which has allowed for an infrequent fall flow. The bees have been bringing in nectar and pollen to back-fill their brood nest for winter. This is good news for beekeepers because it will reduce the amount of sugar we need to purchase. I have noticed an increase in the robbing activity around my hives.


1. If used, queen excluders should be removed, if they weren’t earlier.

2. Remove mite treatments from the hives if applied during August or September.

3. This is the last opportunity to feed any syrup. The bees won’t take a lot so use this for feeding supplements like Nozevit Plus or Tea tree oil for Nosema.

4. Add mouse guards to your hives after the first or second frost in your area.

5. On your last inspection this month for the rest of the season take note of the size on the cluster in each hive (three frames of bees, six frames of bees, etc.). This will help you judge in the spring how well each hive overwintered.

6. Skunks and bears are more of a problem this time of year as they are looking for food to put weight on for winter. You can place chicken wire or hardware cloth around the front of the hive to thwart the skunks. Bears require an electric fence.

Top Bar Hives:

1. Ventilation is just as important in a Top Bar as in a Langstroth hive. After the first or second killing frost for Top Bar hives with solid bottom boards create a crack about 1/8 inch wide between the front of the hive and the underside of the first bar by inserting a small stick under the ends of the first bar. If you wait till after the first or second killing frost the bees will not propolis the openings you created. For screened bottom boards the gaps around the bottom board after insertion are normally sufficient ventilation.

2. For hives of Wyatt A. Mangum’s design, the top three entrance holes should remain open as well as the rear ventilation holes. The ventilation holes in the rear should be screened to prevent the entrance of bees.

3. All the recommendations above are relevant for Top Bar hives too.

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