Winterizing Apis mellifera: Bees!
Emily Hayne, Wilderness Teaching Fellow

Each semester students have afterschool activities that encourage their experience in the outdoors. Some of these activities are stewardship projects such as gardening, trail maintenance, and raking leaves. On November 2, six students participated in a Conserve School project at the apiary to tend to the bees. The hives remain outside but need special preparation in order to withstand the cold, wind, and snow of a northern Wisconsin winter. In order to have a hive successfully survive until springtime, we want to have a low mite count, food for the bees, protection from the wind and humidity control.

By tending to the hives now, we can help the bees the rest of the season transition into winter and spring. The hives have approximately 80 pounds of honey, that will be their source of energy throughout the winter. Additionally, protecting the hives required a few layering steps, such as tar paper, insulation, covers and mouse guards to keep the mice from intruding.

Students used drills and staples to secure the layers around the hives. While using the tools, they were cautious not to upset the bees. Even in the cold November weather, with snow on the ground, the bees made their way out of the hive. Moving slower than they did in summer, the bees flew to stand on top of student's bodysuits. You'll notice in the images each student in a full bee suites with helmet, mask and gloves.

The bees will be monitored throughout winter, with hopes of having a healthy hive come spring.