This is my first year of beekeeping and IÂ’m looking for opinions for winterizing my hives. I have 2 hives and I live in the foothills of North Carolina.
I have read articles about those who warp the hives in black paper and insulation but is this needed in my climate?
I have also read about adding grease patties to the hives to help with mite control. There isnÂ’t enough room between the inner cover and the frames, where do I put the grease patties in the hive?
If it gets real cold or the snow gets deep for long periods of time in the "foot hills" of NC, you probably do need to wrap your hives. Most likely you do not need to wrap them. The grease patties sound like a good idea, they never hurt. Make sure your bees have enough stored food for winter. Lift the hives up slightly from the back to make sure you have approximately 60lbs. Part of your hive management may include reversing your hive bodies. Assuming you have two. The bees will work their way up slowly during the winter.
We usually only get an inch or so of snow per year, and it only lasts for a day or two. It sounds like I won't need to wrap the hives.
When is the best time to reverse the hive bodies? Won't the hive get too chilled when I expose them to the air?
I agree, you probably do not need to wrap your hives. The grease patties get placed ontop of the frames, I put my patties in wax paper and lay the whole thing on top of frames where the queen has been the most active. This might mean in between the two hive bodies. You ask "When is the best time to reverse the hive bodies and can they get chilled from this?".....Yes, they can get chilled, but, do this only when the temp is above 55 to 60 degrees and be as fast as you can to close up again. Ideal would be sunny, no wind and warm....but, do the best you can without hurting yourself and the bees.
[This message has been edited by NewBee (edited November 24, 2001).]
Don't reverse them in the fall! That's a spring thing, for swarm control. Right now the bees have everything organized for winter, and you will mess them up, big time, if you interfere.
The veg oil patties are good, and will squish down sufficiently between the top bars and the inner covers.
Just make sure your bees have a good cluster (about soccer ball sized when it's cold), of young bees (clean looking, not shiny or greasy looking), and plenty of feed. It's getting late to feed syrup, because the bees have trouble getting rid of water once they cluster. Better to use dry sugar, if they need feed.
You shouldn't need to wrap unless you are at a high elevation, where your climate is more like the northeastern US. Winter in the Carolinas, except for extreme elevations in NC, is much more forgiving than in the northern US.
The most important time of danger is in late winter/early spring, when the maples start bloom. It can happen here on the coast in January, probably yours is in February. This starts the queen laying, and then leaves them with a long spell with no nectar. Once they start brooding up, they eat a lot, and I've seen nice strong hives starve here in March. Our bees cannot be counted on to be self sufficient until about April 1, and you may be a week or so later. Once in awhile you get an odd year, when every thing starts early, so you also have to be on guard against swarming. Bees can be starving here on March 20, and off to the trees on April 1. Once year I had a bunch of swarms by March 22, when I was feeding heavily and caught off guard for swarming.
The reason for reversing hive bodies this time of year is not for swarm control it is to make sure the hive is as low as possible for the bees to be able to work their way up. Hopefully a beekeeper doesn't need to do this but if the hive has not set itself up for the winter march up the hive it may be necessary.
[This message has been edited by NewBee (edited November 26, 2001).]