Fall is a beautiful time of year in temperate regions. It can also be nerve-racking, especially if this is the first time you’ve readied a colony for winter. In areas with a real winter, November is too late to be doing much for your colony’s health. The mite count should be low, the bees should have appropriate stores for the winter dearth, and now the beekeeper’s role is patience.
As described in this month’s article by Lamas, the heft test can be useful to determine if the colony has enough stores. If they have plenty of feed and you prepared them properly for the winter, then—like he advises—leave them alone. If the colony is light, feed fondant as in most northern areas the nights are too cool to feed syrup. If you are in an area with a warm fall, keep an eye on your colonies as they can tear through a lot of their food stores.
This time of year is a great opportunity to learn more about bees and prepare for next year’s season. Pick up a new book on beekeeping. Invest in your education, so you can be a good steward of your bees. A book is much cheaper than a new colony.
Great Beginner Books
First Lessons in Beekeeping by Keith Delaplane is a quick and easy read that is a great introductory guide to beekeeping.
The Beekeeper’s Handbook by Diana Sammataro and Alphonse Avitabile, an informative text with excellent diagrams. The one drawback is that it lacks color photographs to help illustrate points.
Storey’s Guide to Keeping Honey Bees by Malcolm Sanford, a delightful look at beekeeping with some excellent illustrations and graphics. It integrates personal stories from a variety of beekeepers, which helps bring the text to life.
Fun Bee Books
A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell, was a NY Times notable book back in the late 1980s. Beekeeping has changed dramatically since then, but her humor, intimacy with nature, a wry look at the oddities in life still make this one of my favorite bee books. She moved to the Ozarks after a divorce, where she managed 300 colonies on her own. Part memoir, part nature journal, and very witty throughout.
Following the Wild Bees by Tom Seeley explores the history and joy of hunting for bees known as beelining, a once popular pastime.
The Bees in your Backyard: A Guide to North America’s Bees by Joseph S. Wilson and Olivia J. Messinger Carril, a visual odyssey that introduces the reader to the diversity of bees in this country. The image quality is spectacular.
Bees: An Up-Close Look at Pollinators Around the World by Sam Droege and Laurence Packer contains stunning stacked images of bee species around the globe. The colors and diversity surprises and delights.
Excellent Bee Science Books
The Wisdom of the Hive by Tom Seeley, an expensive purchase, but it covers the inner workings of a hive in expansive detail, describing how honey bees organize and exploit available resources. A book that walks you through….