You’ve bought all the right beekeeping equipment and settled your hive down for the winter with a nice warm hive covering and various health treatments, but what can you do in your garden to make sure spring will see a healthy environment for your bees and any wild honeybees in the area?
1. Turn the soil in beds and compost
Avoiding waterlogged or frozen areas, turn your beds and planting earth a few times over the winter and apply some compost or manure. You’ll have lovely fertile ground to grow on once the leaves are back on the trees!
2. Order your bees!
Keeping bees is a real seasonal hobby. It can help you get wonderfully in tune with the natural world around you in a way that something like dog or cat ownership could rarely accomplish. The best time to order bees is usually late winter (January-February) because it means you’re likely guaranteed a good post-winter stock of hardy bees. It also gives them the maximum amount of time to establish their colony in your garden before the next winter arrives.
3. Plan the right planting for your soil
We wrote a blog in August about which bee-friendly blooms are best for various types of soil. The blog was titled “Which Bee-Friendly Blooms Are Best for Your Soil?” and included lots of nice succinct explanations on how to identify your soil type and choose the most promising plants for the honeybee.
We love planning new garden spaces in the winter because it mostly involves reading books and magazines over a cup of hot chocolate indoors! The winter is a great time to make an annual planting schedule and list of bee supplies you’re going to need over the coming year.
4. Prune, prune, prune!
Next year, you want plenty of blooms for your bees and visiting bees to enjoy. Be sure to prune fragile plants like rose bushes to make sure the troublesome winter winds don’t damage the roots. You also need to cut back perennials to ground level to make room for spring shoots. Wisteria is a real favourite of the honeybee, so cut back in January to encourage bushy blooms.
5. Encourage winter wildlife in your garden
It’s not just bees that need a little help in the winter months. Your garden can be a haven for all kinds of creatures. Hanging balls of lard and seed can help winter birds make it through to the opulent spring, and making sure there are a few flowering winter plants could help the odd travelling non-hibernating bee! Winter flowering pansies, heather, winter aconite, snowdrops, sarcococca confusa (also known as Christmas Box) and mahonia x media (Winter Sun) are all fine choices for making sure early risers and non-hibernating bees have a healthy food source nearby.