Forming a nest and preparing bees for wintering

Forming a nest and preparing bees for wintering

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Assembling the nest for the winter is one of the main measures for preparing bees for wintering. The formation of the nest must be carried out in accordance with all the rules so that the insects overwinter safely and in the spring, with renewed vigor, began to work on honey collection.

Why is it necessary to form bee nests

Under natural conditions, bees prepare for winter properly, stocking up on food enough to last until spring. In the apiary, beekeepers take honey from bees, constantly move the frames, penetrating into their lives. In order for the insects to survive safely until spring, and not die of hunger and disease, it is necessary to take care of them and carry out the assembly and formation of the nest.

Preparation for winter begins immediately after the main honey collection (in late summer - early autumn) and includes several activities:

  1. Inspection and assessment of the state of the bee colony.
  2. Determining the amount of honey needed for the winter.
  3. Top dressing of individuals.
  4. Shrinking the framework.
  5. Assembling the socket.

Inspection is carried out several times in order to correctly assess their further actions for assembling and forming the nest, and to do everything in time.

Methods for forming a nest of bees for the winter

The assembly of the housing of bees for the winter is made from frames with honeycombs filled with honey at least half. Copper-free frames, freed from brood, are removed from the hive. Frames with honeycombs filled to the bottom with honey are not good for bees. Because of this, they can become moldy, so they are used only in multi-hive hives, located in the upper housing.

Depending on the stock of honey for the winter and the number of frames, beekeepers form a nest, placing them according to a certain assembly pattern. There are several such schemes. Each beekeeper selects the option of assembling and forming the nest for his particular case.

One-sided (corner)

Fully sealed frames are placed on one edge. Then they go in descending order: with half-sealed honeycombs and further - low-copper. The trailing one should have about 2-3 kg of honey. This means that with an angular assembly, after the formation of the nest, there will be from 16 to 18 kg of honey.


When there is a lot of food for the winter and the family is strong, the formation of the nest is carried out in a two-way method - full-length frames are placed at the edges of the nest, and in the center - with a stock content of no more than 2 kg. Whichever direction the bees go, there will be enough food for them.


The scheme for assembling a bee nest for the winter with a beard is used for weak colonies, nucleuses and in case of an insufficient supply of food until spring. Full-copper frames are installed in the center of the hive, and low-copper frames along the edges, as the amount of honey in them decreases. According to this assembly scheme, the nest will contain from 8 to 15 kg of feed.

Volakhovich's method

According to the assembly according to the Volakhovich method, feeding must be completed on September 20, having fed 10 kg of feed to one family. During the formation of the nest, 12 frames with 2 kg of honey on each and two more located on top of the hive should remain. In the lower part of the hive, a honeycomb is formed into which the syrup is poured.

Important! Honey left by bees for the winter must be checked for honeydew content.

It was noted that the location of the feed does not affect the place of assembly of the winter club. Strong families are formed into a club when the temperature drops to +70C and are located closer to the tap hole. Weaker ones form a bed already at a temperature of +120C and are further from the tap hole. While eating honey, the bees climb to the upper combs and then head to the back wall.

How to build a nest of bees for the winter

After the end of the main flow, the brood gradually decreases and at the beginning of August it is possible, by the amount of honey and the strength of the bee colony, to determine how to assemble and form the nest:

  • completely on honey;
  • partly on honey;
  • feed the bees exclusively with sugar syrup.

Only the frames occupied by the bees are left in the hive; they are removed during formation. Beekeepers noted that if you shorten the nest of bees for the winter, then the honey in the combs does not crystallize, the cells do not grow moldy, the bees do not die from the cold on the outer sides of the combs.

The nest of bees for the winter is collected so that the individuals hatch all the frames. When assembling, there should be empty honeycombs at the bottom. Individuals will be located in them, and form a bed.

Care should be taken to ensure that the frame filled with bee bread does not end up in the center of the nest. Otherwise, the bees may split into 2 clubs and some of them will die. To determine the bee bread you need to look at the light - it will not shine through. This frame must be left in stock until spring. In the spring it will come in handy for bees.

If multihull hives are used in beekeeping, then in preparation for winter, the nest is not reduced, but the hives are removed. For the winter, beekeepers leave only 2 houses:

  • the bottom one contains brood and some feed;
  • the upper one is filled with honeycombs for winter feeding.

The autumn location of the brood does not change during formation. It has been noted that when using multi-hive hives, insects eat less food and they survive in greater numbers.

When you need to form a nest of bees for the winter

After the main part of the young bees has hatched, and there is little brood left, you need to start preparing the bees for wintering and the formation of the Dadan nest. By that time, the bulk of the old individuals will die off and by the number of remaining ones it will be possible to find out the strength of the bee colony.

When assembling and forming the nest in the fall, care must be taken to ensure that the bees have enough warm time to pack the nest after the beekeeper has assembled it.

Simultaneously with the reduction, the formation of a bee nest is carried out in the fall. The assembly is done in a certain order in relation to the tap hole. The hole should be in the center of the nest.

Top dressing

When assembling a hive for the winter, you should adhere to the formation rule, in which frames with honey are left at least 2 kg each. Beekeepers noted that a strong bee colony takes 10-12 frames. From honey harvested by insects in the amount of 25-30 kg, only 18-20 kg are left. In multi-body hives, the entire stock is left.

Autumn feeding is a must, and its purpose is to:

  • feed insects;
  • compensate for the honey that the person took for himself;
  • to carry out prevention against diseases.

For cooking, take fresh, not hard water and high-quality sugar. Prepare according to the following instructions:

  1. Boil 1 liter of water.
  2. Remove from heat and add 1.5 kg of sugar, stir.
  3. After cooling the syrup to +450With, you can add honey in the amount of 10% of the syrup.

The insects are fed in the evening as soon as the bees have stopped years. The dose is calculated so that all the syrup is eaten by morning. It is desirable that the food is warm, but not hot or cold. It is poured into wooden feeders located at the top of the hive, or into special plastic or glass drinking bowls.

In multi-body hives, the syrup is placed in the upper body, and a passage is made in the ceiling of the lower body so that the bees can transfer the syrup to the combs.

Important! You need to finish feeding in the first decade of September, in mid-latitudes and before early October in the southern regions of the country.

How many frames to leave in the hive for the winter

To find out how many frames are needed for wintering, you should open the ceiling of the hive and see how many of them are not occupied by bees. That is exactly how much to remove, and leave the rest.

Inspection of the hives

The revision of the hives is carried out in the fall after the final collection of honey. A careful examination of insects will help determine the readiness of the bee colony for wintering, the formation and assembly of the nest, namely:

  • how much food should be in the hive for the family to live safely until spring;
  • how insects and their uterus feel;
  • the amount of brood;
  • the presence of free cells for laying eggs by the uterus.

During the inspection, it is determined how the assembly and formation will take place, what is necessary to remove excess and what to do to save the family.

All data is entered into a statement and an apiary journal.

Reducing the number of frames

The number of frames depends on the number of bees. A strong family needs more of them than a weak one. When shaping the housing of bees for the winter, the streets need to be reduced from 12 mm to 8 mm. Empty frames that are completely filled with honey are removed from the hive. Insulation diaphragms are installed in the nest on both sides, narrowing it.

If you leave everything as it was, then there is a possibility that the bees will settle where there is no food, or they will be divided into 2 clubs. In both cases, insects can die from cold or hunger.

Attention! Do not remove frames on which there is at least a small brood. They are placed on the edge when assembling and forming the nest. When the brood comes out, the bees are shaken off.

When wintering in the open air or in a cold room, leave enough frames to completely fill them with bees. If the hives are transferred to a warm room, then another 1-2 frames are additionally installed.

Reinforcing weak families in the fall

During an autumn inspection, it is necessary to determine whether the family is weak or strong, in order to add insects in time by uniting two or more families. A weak colony can be strengthened by rearranging the brood during nest formation. For example, in a weak colony there are 3 frames with brood, and in a strong colony - 8. Then 2 or 3 broods from strong bees are moved to weak ones.

Autumn build-up of bee colonies

One of the main tasks of the beekeeper in the autumn period is to provide strong families with a lot of young people. They will overwinter well and will develop quickly in the spring. Therefore, it is important that the egg-laying of the queens should increase precisely at the beginning of autumn, and the brood at that time was well fed. For this:

  • insulate hives when cold snaps occur;
  • free the honeycomb for laying eggs;
  • provide individuals with sufficient food;
  • bees are taken to the autumn bribe.

When the growth of bees in the winter becomes sufficient, it is stopped by the opposite actions:

  • remove insulation;
  • enhance ventilation;
  • do not give incentive feeding.

Do not stretch the egg laying time. It must be completed with the expectation that the last hatching of the bees will have time to carry out cleansing flights on warm days. Then the intestines will be cleansed and the likelihood of diseases will decrease.

Caring for bees after nest formation

All preparatory work on assembling and forming the nest must be completed before September 10th. This will give the bees time to transfer the honey to the nest and form a club.

There are several techniques that some beekeepers use at the final stage of forming a nest of bees for the winter in sunbeds to improve their survival conditions:

  • approximately in the middle of the frames, a hole with a diameter of about 10 mm is made with a wooden stick to make it easier for the bees to move in the winter club in search of food;
  • so that the club does not sit near a warm ceiling, the upper insulation is removed and only a canvas is left, after the final fixing of the club in the chosen place, the insulation is returned to its place;
  • so that there is no late oviposition, together with the cooling of the hive, they increase ventilation, and after the uterus stops laying eggs, reduce ventilation and restore insulation.

After assembly, the nest is insulated with pillows and entrance barriers are installed against the penetration of mice and other rodents.

This concludes the autumn work on the formation of the hive for the winter. Until spring, it is not recommended to examine them, but only listen with a rubber tube inserted into the upper entrance, or using a special acoustic device - an apiscop. The hum should be smooth, calm and barely audible. If bees are worried about something, this can be understood by their hum.

With the onset of constant cold weather, the hives are brought into the winter house. Now the beekeeper comes there to check the temperature and humidity in the room. For this, thermometers and psychrometers are located in the winter house, in different places and at different levels.

The hives are arranged so that the cores with the queens are in warm places, and the strongest colonies are in the coldest part of the winter house.

In well-maintained rooms, where there are no problems with temperature, humidity and rodent penetration, the hives are installed without roofs, a light insulation is left on top, the upper ones are opened and the lower entrances are closed. With low ventilation, bees eat less food, their activity is reduced, they live longer and brood more.


Assembling a nest for the winter and its formation is an important autumn event in any bee farm. Timely and correctly carried out assembly will help the bees to survive the winter safely and fully start the new honey harvesting season. Successful management of apiary business is in the hands of beekeepers and depends on their anxious care for the bees.

Watch the video: Keeping Bees Alive Over Winter Part 1 (January 2023).

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