October and the Bees: The bees are now shifting into winter mode. There are less reasons for the bees to leave the hive. Flying is cut way down. The QUEEN is laying fewer eggs.
October and the Beekeeper: The goal is to have the bees fill the upper brood chamber during the fall flow forcing the QUEEN down into the bottom brood chamber. This allows for winter food to be stored as well as space for brood rearing. Now is the time to begin preparations for winter. Your preferred method to restrict the entrance into the hive should be in place. Bees stay warm by clustering in the hive, keeping each other warm within the cluster. Keep in mind – a large, healthy hive will not die from cold weather. They can survive extreme cold weather. But, moisture can develop within the hive as bees do give off moisture like we do. If moisture gathers above them, it can drip onto the cluster – this is what can kill bees during the winter. How to avoid moisture: use screen bottom boards, fully opened, without restriction or covers for winter. This allows ventilation within the hive to alleviate moisture build up. I do not wrap my hives – in DC area – due to the increased chance for condensation to collect within the hive. Place heavy bricks to keep top on during strong winds.
Continue to feed bees with a 1 to 1 ratio. Take a peek (slightly lift the top from the rear to avoid disturbing the propolis seal) at least every 6 weeks during the winter months to check general condition.