5 Easy Ways You Can Help Bees at Your Wedding
Use local organic honey for your wedding cake, favors and even drinks
Help save these little guys by incorporating them into your big day.
Make a difference at your wedding and support the plight of the honeybee. Colony Collapse Disorder is a worldwide problem caused mainly by a toxic cocktail of pesticides on crops that bees come into contact with. Using local organic honey for your wedding cake, favors and even drinks ensures that no pesticides have been used in the process.
There is also an abundance of imported fake honey which contains absolutely no pollen at all. Instead, this imitation brand contains illegal antibiotics and even lead. If you decide to have a bee themed wedding with honey favors, buy organic and support your local apiary!
1. Support local beekeepers by buying locally produced honey for your wedding foods or favors. You can give guests jars of Organic Raw Honey Favors or delicious Vanilla Honey and Fig Lollipops.
2. Plant a bee-friendly garden and purchase wildflower seeds to help the honeybees, native pollinators and the environment. If you’re a green thumb, consider growing honeybee friendly flowers to use at your wedding for your bouquets and floral centerpieces. You can also send all of your guests plantable wildflower wedding invitations that they can plant in their garden to entice the bees.
3. Join or contribute to a campaign designed to help honeybees such as Haagen-Dazs, Help The Honey Bees or The Foundation for the Preservation of the Honey Bees. Donate in each of your guest’s names in lieu of a favor and leave a note at each place setting at your reception to educate and inform them about the donation and how it will help future honeybee colonies.
4. Burn beeswax candles at your reception. Beeswax and soy candles are the healthiest options for the earth. Other candles burn off carcinogens and other toxins into the air.
5. If you are very passionate about this cause, you may have already considered becoming a backyard beekeeper yourself. The more beekeepers there are, the more bees there are. This is not limited to country dwellers or suburbanites; even city folk are becoming small time backyard beekeepers!
5 simple ways you can help save the bees — and why it’s vital
Bees are Mother Nature’s MVPs. One-third of our food supply owes its existence to this incredible swarm of insects, which pollinate so many of the foods we love: things like apples, strawberries, avocados and almonds.
But the bees could use an assist. The use of pesticides, a lack of flower diversity and a host of harmful parasites and diseases have all made things tough for the bees in recent years.
Honey Nut Cheerios is passionate about bees and is taking steps to inspire others to do their part by releasing a video to raise awareness for the plight of these pollinators in peril. It’s time we all did something to help. Watch the video below then read on to discover what you can do.
The good news is that you can help save the bees by making a few small changes at home. Here are some steps you can take that will help to improve bee health, no matter where you are:
Bees feed on flowers. Pollen supplies them with all of their protein, while nectar gives them the carbohydrates they need. But the diversity of plants available to them has been dwindling. You can do your part by planting native, bee-friendly flowers where you live. Bees are drawn to bright colors and especially love blue, purple, white and yellow, so flowers like echinacea, poppies and asters will have them buzzing. Consider planting a window box, putting some pots on the fire escape or dedicating a backyard plot to flowers. If you live in Canada, get your own free wildflower seeds from Honey Nut Cheerios and enter to win a wildflower garden makeover.
Support your local farmers and beekeepers
Eating a diversity of foods that are grown locally will help encourage farmers to maintain a range of crops. Giving the bees more pollen options can help boost their health, so farmers who plant cover crops and surround their fields with flower borders are giving the bees more to eat. Help support the effort for agricultural diversity by eating lots of different foods and local honey to keep these efforts going.
Just say "no" to pesticides
Pesticides can have disastrous effects for the bees, from simply disorienting them so they can’t get back to the hive to killing them on contact. Opt for natural alternatives at your own home and shop for produce that has been grown pesticide-free.
You know those weeds you keep pulling out of the ground? Many of them are prime bee food. "Let the dandelions grow," says Tim May, vice president of the American Beekeeping Federation. "It’s one of the first flowers to bloom in the spring and the bees are really hungry for it." Plus, it makes less work for you. It’s a win-win, really.
Spread the word
If each of us made an effort to do our part, the ripple effects could be huge. Talk to your family, your friends and neighbors and encourage them to do their part. Share the video above and help inspire people to take action. Got kids? Teach them about these incredible insects, plant a garden together and raise the next generation of bee crusaders. We’re all in this together: If we take care of the bees, they’ll take care of us.
Stats and Facts
- There are 40,000 premature deaths in the UK each year linked to air pollution
- 12 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world&rsquos oceans each year.
- 97% of flower-rich meadows have been lost since the 1930s, meaning that bees, other pollinating insects as well as a variety of other species have lost their homes and source of food
10 simple lifestyle switches that can help save the planet
1. Grab a reusable coffee cup for your morning caffeine kick
Or have a little me-time and sit down with a drink-in coffee before heading to work. Many cafes are now offering discounts for customers with re-usable coffee cups, so you&rsquoll soon find yourself saving money as well as the planet.
2. At lunchtime, ditch the plastic heavy supermarket meal deal and bring in your own tasty food
Or get away from your desk for lunch with some colleagues and enjoy eating off a proper plate with real cutlery!
3. Use low emission options for your regular car journeys
Try setting up a car pool for things like the school run, and use a bicycle for shorter journeys. Having less cars on the road will lead to cleaner air (especially outside the school gates) and will make our towns much nicer places to be.
4. Eat less meat
Livestock production causes nearly 15% of all climate changing gases, and it uses loads of precious fresh water. If you cut down on the meat you could save tonnes of CO2, spend less money on the weekly food shop, and have a healthier diet. what are you waiting for?
5. Choose bee-friendly plants for your garden
Start by planting something simple to suit your space, time and interests. Pots on a patio, herbs in a planter or even a hanging basket can get you going and help bees &ndash if you grow the right plants. Trees, shrubs and larger plants will provide height in your borders. A cherry or birch tree can form a backdrop to "layers" of plants of different height and size closer to the front of the border. Low-growing heathers and crocuses in the front will provide colour and help feed bees in the barren months. Why not try.
10 ways you can help save the bees
Bees are disappearing rapidly. And not just the Honey Bees (who make the delicious honey) but all the bees. There are over 4,000 species of wild bees in North America alone, some are quite extraordinary, and honey bee is just one of them (which is not native as it was brought by the first settlers).
Most of those bees are pollinators, which means they help plants to reproduce. So without bees, no plant babies. And who are the plants babies? The fruits and the veggies we eat every day. From apples to strawberries, from coffee to chocolate, from almonds to tomatoes, all those plants need pollinators, bees. It is estimated that 30% of the world crops (and 90% of the wild plants!) need an insect like a bee to thrive. Without them, crops would die and the world will starve.
There are many reasons all those bees are disappearing. Insecticides, pollution of rivers & water sources, pollution of the soil which contaminates plants (like Roundup), extreme climates, reduction of wild prairies, mono-crop culture, the extension of lawns, industrial beekeeping practices, etc. The list is sadly too long bees are becoming weaker and die off faster. The result? 40% of bee colonies died last year alone.
In 2015, we created the New York Bee Sanctuary to be part of the solution to protect the bees and all the other wild pollinators. One of the big efforts we are focusing on is to encourage individuals, corporations and cities to create BEE-SAFE zones places where pollinators are safe and can find healthy food, water & shelter. But very often I got the question from people on what can they do to help the bees.
So here are 10 ways YOU can save the #bees with us, and be part of a growing global movement!
- and pledge to protect the bees on a piece of land you manage, your garden, the backyard of your company or your rooftop! We have partner towns, schools, corporations, and individuals. Everyone can join!
- Do not use any pesticides, fungicides or herbicides on plants or in your garden. Plants get contaminated and the product will likely reach the bees and kill them. Make sure the plants you buy are not pre-treated with neonics pesticides!
- Buy local & raw honey from your local beekeepers. Avoid honey sold in bulk or in the supermarket unless you are sure of its provenance and quality. Always best to buy on farmers market so you can meet your beekeeper and check with him his sustainable beekeeping practices.
- Plant your garden with native and bee friendly plants. They provide great sources of nectar and pollen (both food for the bees and butterflies). It’s important for bees, as it is for us, to have a diverse and regular food supply.
- Avoid planting lawns. Lawns are literally desert for insects and for wild plants because lawns usually never have plants beneficial to bees and are cut too often so plants never get to bloom. Instead, plant prairies!
- Do not weed your garden. Many plants like dandelion, for example, are an excellent source of food for bees. In early spring, those “weeds” are often the only source of food for beneficial insects. Lots of those weeds are often excellent food and medicine for us too!
- Even if you just have a small balcony you can install a little water basin for the bees to drink during the warm day of summer. Put a few stones and floating cork on the water so bees won’t drown!
- Stay connected to the Facebook page of New York Bee Sanctuary and our Instagram account so you can stay informed and sign regular petition to pressure our state and country to pass regulations to help the bees (like the ban of neonicotinoids)
- Educate yourself and your children about bees. Bees are not dangerous they forage on a flower and don’t attack humans. By better understanding them we will learn to better respect them. There are 5 must-see documentaries about bees.
- If the buzz gets to you, learn how to become a beekeeper and install a hive in your garden or on your rooftop. It’s a powerful way to give honey bees a home and probably the best local honey you will ever get!
We hope this gives you some good ideas on how to help us #SaveTheBees
We look forward to seeing all of you be a big part of the solution, advocate of the bees, and may be a BEE-SAFE partner!
Things to make with beeswax
With one pound of beeswax you can make these beeswax crafts:
- 37 tealight candles to replace paraffin tealights.
- 3 pairs of taper candles for your dining room table
- 16 Christmas ornaments for your tree
- 20 different moisturizer or body butter recipes
- 20 different herbal remedy salves, balms, or ointments
- 4 solid blocks of fabric waterproofing
- Deodorant, perfume, hand moisturizer, lipstick, shampoo, and soap, enough for one year for one person
- 3 pounds of hard lotion bars for gifts, or yourself.
- An encaustic painting
- 6 blocks of solid beeswax for the workshop, to lubricate drawers, screws, or preserve tools
- A dozen tubs of wood polish to polish wooden floors, furniture, and cupboard doors
- 20 tins of food-safe cutting board conditioner
- 16 tins of hair pomade or beard wax for your grooming needs, or your spouse’s grooming needs
- 16 tins of Musher Paw Wax to protect your dog’s paws from salt and winter dryness
- 280 tubes of lip balm or try Nourishing & Moisturizing Rose Lip Balm
- 4 pounds of grafting wax for fruit trees, you could create a whole orchard with that!
- 2 emergency solid fuel stove/heaters for your emergency kits
- 20 festive pinecone fire starters, for gifts
- 16 tins of leather dressing, shoe polish, or boot conditioner
- 27 tubes of archer’s wax for bowstrings and more
- 18 tins of bore butter, black powder lubricant, or bullet lube
- 55 tubes of rock climber’s hand balm, for the local climbing gym
- 12 bars of customized organic snowboard/ski wax or surfboard wax, that won’t leave any Polytetrafluoroethylene to pollute the environment for hundreds of years
- 16 beeswax and cotton food wraps to replace the plastic wrap and Zipper bags in your kitchen
- 72 sticks of sealing wax, for wedding invitations, thank you cards, or to trade at the re-enactment fair
- 15 one-ounce naturally coloured nontoxic crayons, safe enough for your little ones
- 37 one-ounce nontoxic oil pastels for your art needs
- 18 nontoxic blocks of modelling clay for your Waldorf schooling friends
- 3 pounds of nontoxic plasticine-type modelling clay
- 100s of pysanka eggs, and you can reuse the wax
- 40 tins of organic cork grease for your clarinet, saxophone, or oboe with enough to share
- 12 bars of solid beeswax for treating hand sewing thread so it doesn’t tangle
What can we do to help save the honey bee?
Even if you&rsquore not a beekeeper, there are still things you can do to help protect and support the honey bee.
1. Growing bee-friendly flowers &ndash even a pot on a windowsill &ndash is a valuable contribution (see left for suggestions).
2. Provide shelter &ndash this can be provided by an uncut lawn. Even if you favour a bowling green garden, experiment with allowing one corner to grow wild, or raise the notches of your lawn mower so it leaves the grass slightly longer.
3. Stop using pesticides &ndash these kill off the helpful and endangered insects as well as the troublesome ones. Try experimenting with natural alternatives such as companion planting, which can also provide bees with extra forage material.
It&rsquos also important to support your local beekeepers (you can find yours at bbka.org.uk) by purchasing honey and other bee products from them. Another way you can help is by monitoring bee populations through Friends of the Earth&rsquos Great British Bee Count 2018, which runs from 17 May to 30 June this year.
Tips to Reduce Wedding Reception Dinner Costs
Follow these tips to cut the cost of your wedding reception’s dinner service. They include sensible menu and service changes made to control costs as well as out-of-the-box ideas that could leave guests positively buzzing about your wedding for weeks to come.
22. Research Ingredient Costs Ahead of Time
You don’t need an encyclopedic knowledge of ingredient pricing or availability. But it can help to have a general sense of the cost of various types of vegetables, meats and fish, and common sides.
The more you know about the per-serving costs of individual ingredients and finished menu options, the better equipped you are to negotiate menu pricing or swap costly ingredients in favor of cheaper alternatives. That’s especially crucial if you’re building your own menu rather than choosing from a handful of choices presented by your caterer.
23. Serve a Single-Course Dinner or Skip Dinner Entirely
Here’s a bold idea: Why not skip the full dinner entirely? Instead of a formal, sit-down dinner service, break out heavy apps during the cocktail hour and keep them flowing until toast time.
For example, you could serve:
- Beef, bison, or ground lamb sliders
- Bacon-wrapped grilled shrimp
- Spinach-and-ricotta pastries
- Chicken or pork satay skewers
- Tuna tartare cups (mixing in diced fresh veggies to add volume without adding fish)
If you’re not prepared to break with tradition quite so dramatically, try a hybrid app-and-dinner strategy.
One wedding that’s always stuck with me followed this approach. They kept the apps going right up until they served a single-course, modestly portioned dinner that was far less memorable than the app round. Clearly, the idea was to get guests full enough that they wouldn’t care about the skimpy dinner (I certainly didn’t).
24. Focus on Nontraditional Cuts of Meat
Swap pricey cuts of meat — such as filet, prime rib, and lamb chop — for cheaper or nontraditional cuts. Well-marinated flank steak or sirloin tips are nearly as tasty as your basic filet mignon at a fraction of the cost.
Remember to do your research so you can counter your caterer’s suggestions with cheaper alternatives. MyRecipes has an article on less expensive beef substitutions, for example.
25. Go Completely Vegetarian
If skipping dinner is too bold for you, you can still save by skipping the meat. Most animal protein is expensive, particularly the fancy types and cuts wedding caterers push, such as filet mignon, prime rib, lamb, and sea bass.
Swap these pricey proteins for hearty vegetables and plant-based proteins like tofu, seitan, portobello mushroom, eggplant, and cauliflower. Use artistic presentations and complex sauces and dressings to keep things interesting.
Get inspired with vegetarian wedding menu guides from Bon Appetit, The Knot, and WeddingWire.
26. Set Up a Build-Your-Own Bar
Traditional dinner service is boring. Engage your guests and cut down on ingredient costs with a build-your-own meal bar that’s heavy on low-cost sides. Popular ideas include:
- Burger or Meat Sandwich Bar. Stock your bar with burgers or meat sandwiches with plenty of fresh veggies, cheese, and condiments. Weddingomania and Good Cheap Eats have dozens of ingredient and presentation ideas.
- Tex-Mex Meal Bar. Serve tacos or burritos, emphasizing cheaper types or cuts of meat, such as chicken or hanger steak, and traditional low-cost sides. Serving both taco shells and tortillas allows guests to pick between burritos and tacos with many of the same ingredients. See Food’s taco bar guide for inspiration.
- Traditional Salad Bar. Let the load fresh salads with chicken, fish, or vegetable-based proteins to bulk things up. The Kitchn has salad bar tips and a sample menu.
If you go the build-your-own route, set up at least two double-sided stations to allow up to four guests to serve themselves the same ingredient at once to reduce bottlenecks.
27. Do a Basic Buffet
Cheap buffets emphasize filling, low-cost sides, such as:
- Potato salad
- Mashed potatoes
- Steamed vegetables
- Corn on the cob
- Rice and beans
- Cooking greens
Limit protein choice to a few reasonably priced meat and vegetable protein options, such as:
- Grilled tofu
- Grilled portobello mushrooms
- Grilled eggplant
- Chicken breast
- Cod filet
- Pulled pork
Elevate your buffet service by setting out straightforward themed serving stations with one or two offerings. It’s a sensible, visually engaging way to split guests who prefer chicken or pulled pork and those seeking out grilled tofu or eggplant, reducing congestion.
Label stations clearly and optimize station placement for flow. You want every guest to have easy access to every station and to avoid bottlenecks as much as possible.
28. Serve Family-Style
If you’re not a fan of buffets or you’re wary about traffic, you can still reduce labor costs for dinner prep, plating, and service by serving family-style meals.
Family-style service means seated guests serve themselves from communal dishes placed on their tables — an instant conversation starter and opportunity for portion control.
Dishes that work well for family-style service also happen to be cost-effective, such as:
- Mac and cheese, perhaps with an animal protein for added bulk
- Pulled meat sandwiches
- Rice-based dishes
29. Limit Entree Options
If you’re set on traditional dinner service, limit the menu choices to two: one vegetarian or vegan option (ideally vegan to ensure all guests can partake) and a low-cost meat option.
Limiting the choices reduces prep and plating costs as well as the likelihood of service errors. For your meat option, opt for poultry instead of hoofed proteins. Chicken is cheaper than beef, lamb, or pork.
30. Order Takeout
A stack of takeout pizza boxes on the wedding buffet may not be the most elegant visual, but it’s cost-effective. Besides, when push comes to shove, how many guests are really going to turn down free pizza? That’s especially true if you live in a place with celebrated local pizzerias, like New York City or Chicago.
Rather than accepting pricey in-house catering or opting for a custom menu by an outside caterer, bulk-order takeout from your favorite local restaurant. Takeout is a great accompaniment for casual daytime receptions. And for basic options like pizza, Tex-Mex, and sandwiches, your final cost should be well under $10 per person.
With enough advance notice — a week or longer, most likely — most decent-size restaurants can accommodate catering for 150 or 200 guests. Fast-casual chains like Chipotle are safer bets and may be amenable to day-before or even day-of orders.
Don’t pay menu prices without negotiating first. Many restaurants are willing to charge less to move perishable product.
Pro tip: You can further reduce the cost of takeout catering by purchasing discount gift cards through Raise.
31. Skip the Wine With Dinner
If you think about it, it’s odd to compel guests still finishing their cocktail hour drinks to double up so early in the night by serving wine with dinner. And at four or five glasses per bottle, depending on the pour, even a modestly sized wedding’s dinner wine amounts to a 12-bottle case or more.
Instead, break the mold, and let your guest finish their cocktails or enjoy their meals with a glass of water or tea.
32. Price Out Local-Only Menus
Since local producers don’t always enjoy the same scale as industrial food producers, pricing isn’t guaranteed to work in your favor, but it can pay to check it out. Local, in-season menus often cost less than luxe menus with ingredients sourced from the four corners of the world.
Note that a local-food-only requirement can affect your choice of caterer. You may even need to purchase and prepare some menu elements yourself with the help of guests or the wedding party.
33. Opt for a Tasting Menu
Compared with a take-it-or-leave-it main course, a six- or eight-course tasting menu means greater logistical complexity and higher prep costs. But smaller portion sizes and slower pacing may justify these drawbacks
If you serve less food overall, you spend less on ingredients. Think of this as a creative alternative to heavy app-only dinners.
- 1 (16 ounce) box Classic Onion or your favorite variety of Mrs. T’s® Pierogies
- 1 cup sliced onions
- ¼ cup melted butter, margarine or olive oil
- Place pierogies in boiling water until hot, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Sauté onions in butter over medium heat.
- Place sautéed onions in large bowl add cooked pierogies and mix gently to combine.
My personal favorite of the above is probably the General Tso’s. J helped out as Official Taste-Tester In-Chief and said he’s always a fan of classic first + foremost, but General Tso’s second. And my mom – who was also there as Official Taste-Tester In-Command – said the Pierogy Nachos were her favorite “because they’re a great base for the other flavors and blended very well,” or the Pierogy Primavera “because all the different veggies blend well, but are still light and fresh.”
10 Flowers That Attract Bees to Your Yard and Garden
10 Flowers That Attract Bees to Your Yard
Bees are such an important part of our survival on this planet. Does that sound dramatic? Well, it is true. Pollinators help keep our planet…well…pollinated! Planting bee friendly plants is a great way to do your own part in keeping these little fuzzy butts healthy and strong.
So how do you do that? Take a look below at 10 flowers that attract bees to your yard and see how simple it can be to grow your way to a bee friendly yard.
10 Plants That Attract Bees to Your Yard
So here we go. Let’s chat about the plants that attract bees via their colors and scents. Below are the plants you need in order to grow a bee friendly yard, no matter how big or small of a space you have to work with. Here is what you need to know.
I named pansies first because they are typically the first flowers that can be planted during the cooler spring months. The bright purple and blue hues that pansies show off will attract bees, plus the fact that they are inexpensive and easy to find makes them accessible for everyone.
I love peonies! The nice thing about peonies is you can plant them once and enjoy them year after year. They don’t have a lengthy growing season, but the short week or two that they do bloom will be beneficial to your visiting bees. Peonies do attract ants, but don’t panic. Let the ants hang out or use a natural repellent. Otherwise, you could cause damage to the bees.
3. Bee Balm.
The name of this flower says it all! Bee balm is another perennial that you can plant once and allow it to come back year after year. It comes in bright purple, red, and pink hues, and let me tell you that bees will flock to it! Be sure to find some easy to grow bee balm seeds on Amazon here.
Want to learn more about growing bee balm? Check out my tips on How to Grow Bee Balm here.
Marigolds are great for not just bringing bees to your garden, but they can also help repel garden pests such as rabbits. Plant marigolds in pots and window boxes if you are limited on space, and the bees are sure to be fans. Marigolds are an annual so you will have to plant them each year, but don’t let this discourage you. You can buy marigolds for just a few cents per plant when you buy them by the flat.
Lavender not only smells amazing, but it also is a real treat for bees. Bees, butterflies, and even hummingbirds are huge fans of lavender. Plant this easy to grow perennial once, and you are good to go for years to come.
With so many ways to use lavender (in the kitchen, in homemade bath products, for stress relief) it is a great plant to have around.
Not many people have heard about borage, but it is an amazing multi purpose herb to grow. Borage is a sweet treat to bees, plus humans will enjoy it in their salads, too! The light cucumber flavor is quite tasty, and you will find that this perennial herb is quite simple to grow as well. Find your own borage seeds on Amazon here.
Find out How to Grow Borage here.
If you love planting flowers in your cutting garden, you already know about zinnias. Zinnias come in a rainbow of colors, and although they are an annual, they are still quite easy to grow and will last all season long.
Mint attract bees, but it can be an invasive perennial. To keep it under control, try planting mints in contained pots and window sill gardens. This way your bees will still benefit, and you don’t need to worry about it taking over your yard.
Phlox is a wistful plant that adds beauty and grace to any garden! You can easily grow it from seed, or buy it as a seedling. It comes in a variety of soft colors and can add a touch of charm to container gardens, flower beds, and of course, window boxes.
10. Black Eyed Susan.
If you enjoy a yard with full sun, this plant is for you. Black Eyed Susans attract bees as well as other pollinators with ease. The bright yellow and orange blooms look amazing in cutting gardens and flower beds, and the fact they they re seed themselves means you will enjoy blooms year after year.
How to Plant a Bee Friendly Garden:
Now that you know which plants attract bees, let’s talk about how to go the extra mile and really make your garden bee friendly! Here are some tips to keep in mind when planting a garden designed to attract bees and other pollinators.
– Only buy plants that are grown without chemicals. Organic plants are best.
– Do not use chemicals to treat pests. If you use ANY kind of chemical treatment to treat pests (such as ants, snails, spiders) you will deter and possibly kill bees that visit your yard.
– Small, shallow water dishes placed around the garden can help keep tired bees hydrated.
– Offer the bees some shade. Plant some ground cover so they have places to relax.
If you want some more helpful tips on how to attract bees to your yard, check out this post How to Attract Bees To Your Garden.
Are you ready to create a space that is truly bee friendly? Consider these 10 plants that attract bees and see what a difference they can make. Not only will you have a gorgeous garden, but you can also rest assured that the bees will feel at home as well.
Would you like to give the bees some company? Check out these posts:
10 Steps to Wintering Bees to Keep Them Alive (Even If You’re in the Northern Climates)
Jennifer is a full-time homesteader who started her journey in the foothills of North Carolina in 2010. Currently, she spends her days gardening, caring for her orchard and vineyard, raising chickens, ducks, goats, and bees. Jennifer is an avid canner who provides almost all food for her family needs. She enjoys working on DIY remodeling projects to bring beauty to her homestead in her spare times.
If you buy an item via links on this page, we may earn a commission. Our editorial content is not influenced by commissions. Read the full disclosure.
Are you a beekeeper that loses their hive every (or almost every) winter?
Do you know that learning how properly winterng your bees could potentially save your hive each year?
Well, if not, then you need to keep reading. There are many reasons bees die each winter. You may not be able to prevent all of them, but you could potentially prevent a few of them.
So I want to share with you a few tips while wintering bees to give your honeybees the best chance of survival. I use Langstroth hives so most of the tips will apply to this type of hive.
1. Move Your Bees
Since we know winter is upon us, we also know it is only a matter of time until it will be darker longer.
So now is the time to pay attention to the yard where the bees are kept. You will want to see where they can get the full winter sun (or as close to it as possible) for most of the day. This is very important to help keep the temperature in the hive up.
Once you find that location then you will have to get innovative so you can move the bees there. Remember, you don’t want to put them in an area with a lot of traffic.
But if there is any way possible to move them to the location with the most sunlight then that is what you’ll need to do to give them the best chance at keeping warm.
2. Give Them a Wind Breaker
I don’t mean that you need to go out and buy your bees’ coats. (But how cute would that be?) Moving on, but they do need to be in a location where the wind is blocked as much as possible from their hive.
See, you have to think about winter storms. The winds pick up, and the next thing you know your hives are on their faces with exposed and shivering bees.
When that happens, don’t be surprised if you lose your hives. With this in mind, though, you can plan ahead.
So what you should do is place them near a tree line, or put up a fence around them to help block some of the wind. My hives are personally set on the tree line right next to my garden. That way they get ample amount of sunlight at their entrance, but also have a tree line blocking the wind from behind the hive.
3. Don’t be so Stuffy
Do you ever get cabin fever during the winter? Boy, I do! When it is time to start seedlings my heart leaps for joy because I know I will be outside in my flip flops sooner rather than later.
Well, your bees won’t necessarily get cabin fever. However, they do need their hive to be properly vented so it won’t get stuffy. The actual reason for this is because honey bees gather together in a cluster inside the hive in order to produce warmth.
When they do this, they also put off a small amount of moisture. If air flow can’t get through the hive the moisture turns into condensation which will eventually be the death of your bees.
So what you can do is slightly vent the roof of their hive by tipping it up slightly at an angle. This will allow a small amount of air flow to get in there and let things breathe a little. Just not to the point of allowing your bees to freeze.
4. Shut the Front Door
Well, not all of the way. You don’t want to trap your bees, but if you have a large reducer on the front of the hive it is time to switch it to a smaller reducer.
The reason we do this is because during the summer the hive needs a larger entrance so bees can get in and out of the hive easily and more of them at one time. They are on a mission to collect food to make honey for winter.
But when winter hits, there aren’t as many bees in the hive so you don’t need as big of an entrance. Plus, they aren’t going to be flying in and out nearly as much. Their main focus is staying warm and keeping the queen warm.
So when you add the smaller reducer for the hive entrance, it still allows the bees to move in and out easily but stops the entrance from being so large which reduces the amount of wind and cold that can enter the hive.
5. Reduce the Size of the Hive
I’m going to talk about when to do all of this winterizing in greater detail a little further down.
However, this is something that you will do earlier on than some of the other items mentioned here. The reason is because some hives grow to be several bodies tall during the summer. It just depends upon how productive your bees are.
For instance, we had 4 hives this year that were 5 hive bodies tall. They were very busy, but I just had to decrease the size of the hive bodies because as the hive naturally shrinks preparing for winter, these oversized hives were stressing the queens out.
So we just took a few of the hive bodies away, and the hives seemed to level out again. But whether the actual size of your hives (not your bee population) are stressing your bees out or not, you’ll need to reduce the number of boxes.
The reason for this is, that the bees decrease in number over winter. So they won’t be able to take up all of that space. Instead, they cluster together for warmth. Meaning that the other areas of the larger hive just leave more space for them to heat which naturally they can’t.
So that means that you have a cold hive and ultimately frozen bees.
6. Cover Them
I live in the south so I don’t actually have to do this step. The reason is, we have cold winters but nothing in comparison to some northern areas.
So even when we have cold snaps, it usually doesn’t stay cold very long. Nor do we get a ton of snow either.
However, if you live in an area where you get lots of snow and constant cold temperatures it might be wise to invest in a hive cover. You simply slide them onto your hive and let them help to keep your hives a little warmer.
But be sure that they are on securely. I’ve heard reports of people not securing their hive covers properly, and they fly off during a winter storm.
So just be sure that you follow the directions thoroughly to get the best use out of them.
7. Feed Them
Bees do not get out of the hive much during the winter. There isn’t much food for them anyway. Nor do they leave the hive when it is cold.
So you will have to give them a supply of food before winter sets in to ensure that they eat. You do this in two ways.
First, you can feed them fondant. You have two options with this. You can either buy fondant which in my area is about $5 a block. This should last one hive for the winter, in my experience.
Or you can actually make fondant. Here is a recipe and it seems rather easy to do considering it is made out of sugar, water, and vinegar. It should be pretty inexpensive too.
The second option is to feed your bees grease patties. You can buy them or make them. The ingredients are a little more complex than fondant, but the benefits of grease patties are many too. They are known to help deter mites from the hive.
Plus, some people actually use both of these options together. That way your bees are fed by fondant, but still get the benefits of the patties.
8. Don’t Forget About Them
You shouldn’t go outside and go through your bees in the winter. When wintering bees, you need to pretty well leave them be.
But there is one exception. If you have a day that is above 40 degrees Fahrenheit then you should quickly raise the lid to the hive just to make sure that your bees’ food supply isn’t running low. This is important.
And the reason for that is that most hives are lost in the winter because of freezing and starvation.
Now, how sad would that be if you could salvage your hive simply by adding a little more fondant or a few more grease patties?
So just be aware of what is going on inside your hive. Again, don’t go through your hives. Just briskly lift the lid, make sure they have enough food, and then close it and place the hive cover back on (if you are using one.) It is that simple.
9. Wintering Bees at the Right Time
There is no specific date as to when you should begin wintering bees. You just have to be aware of what is going on in your hive and what the weather is doing.
So if you go out in your hives and you realize that the queen isn’t laying in all of the hive bodies, then you need to begin to shrink the physical size of the hive. We just did this a few weeks ago.
As far as the rest of the steps, when you realize that the weather is getting cold and staying that way, then it is time for wintering bees. Some suggest doing this at the end of October or sometime in November.
Really, it depends upon where you are located and what your weather is like that year.
For instance, we had a warm winter last year. So we didn’t have to winterize the hive until December. But if you live someplace tropical, then obviously you won’t have to worry about winterizing your hive period.
So just do some research about keeping bees in your area so you’ll know when most seasoned beekeepers in your location begin wintering bees.
10. Stay Calm
Our first year keeping bees, we almost panicked during the winter. Think about it, you invest a lot of money into getting started into beekeeping to not even be sure you will have a hive the next spring.
Well, though this fact remains (because bees are certainly their own creatures) you just have to stay calm and roll with it.
All you can do is keep a watchful eye at a distance and try to help your bees if you see a problem while it is cold. Bees have been around for a long time.
So though winter is a tough time for them, they’ve clearly toughed it out before. Not to mention, winter bees are completely different from the bees you see during the spring. It is really neat how the hive knows to lay a tougher bee to protect the queen during winter.
Truly, bees are just fascinating creatures. So there are no promises in keeping bees, but they are rewarding creatures. And if you do all you can to keep them healthy and warm over winter with wintering bees, then realize that you’ve literally done all that you can do.
So take a deep breath and eventually, winter will pass.
Well, that’s all of the tips I have on wintering bees. Like I said, bees are their own creatures so we can only do so much to help pull them through the winter months.