Some Indiana beekeepers work year-round to produce honey as a source of income. Many others consider beekeeping a hobby.

No matter how many hives a beekeeper has, it’s important to prepare hives for the harsh winter months in order to increase survival rates.

Dave Laney, beekeeper and owner of Laney Family Honey Co. in northern Indiana, offered several tips on how to preserve hives through the winter.

While it has been a bitterly cold season so far, Laney hopes that most or all of his hives will survive. Each hive contains thousands of honeybees that snuggle up and produce some heat.

Laney takes extra measures, including wrapping his hives to provide more warmth. His hives have sustained a 90 percent survival rate due in part to black tarpaper wraps.

Laney suggests insulating the inside of the hives over the inner cover flush using two-inch Styrofoam.

He recommends cutting an air channel from the inner cover hole to the three-eighths inch by three-quarters inch opening at the front of the inner cover. This provides adequate ventilation while providing warmth.

It is crucial that beekeepers leave ample stores of honey for the honeybees. Laney uses a three-deep hive system for food and early spring population buildup. No nutrition-short corn syrup or sugar water is necessary, Laney said.

He chooses to breed from a local survival stock rather than import new honeybees to replenish populations after winter.

Laney emphasized that chemicals are not needed to sustain hives. Ensuring in-hive water availability during flight season also is crucial.

Following these simple steps can result in less colony collapse and above average honey production, Laney said.