by Kathryn Eutsler, Ozarks News Brief

SPRINGFIELD – It may not feel like it lately, but Summer has officially ended and with it, so has honey bee season. According to bee keeper, Lucas Nitcher, the cooler months present some challenges for the little black and yellow insects.

“They fell out of their cluster, in the winter they cluster, and they fell down and didn’t make it through the next winter,” Nitcher says.

Nitcher is a senior at Missouri State University now but when he started college three years ago, he brought with him some unique cargo; a couple of bee hives, which he brought with him to the Darr Agricultural Center.

“All I had was a bicycle to come over here and bring all my bee stuff and take care of them,” he says. 

None of his bees survived through the winter, but now as founder and president of MSU’s bee keeping club, when temperatures drop, Nitcher knows exactly what to do. The process he goes through is most often called wintering bees and the most important part is giving the bees their nutrition.

“When it’s not fully filled out, you want to feed the heck out of them, because you want them to really build up their winter stores,” Nitcher explains. “The colder it gets, the higher concentration of sugar you’ll have in that water.”

According to the US Department of Agriculture, bee populations have been significantly declining and one of the main caused of this is improper bee nutrition.

“They’re the only ones we got to make honey, we’ve got to protect them,” Nitcher says.

So the most important things to remember when getting bees ready for the winter is to keep them well fed, and healthy, then, you just leave them alone.