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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Mapleton, ME
    Posts
    28

    Question

    I was wondering if anyone had any advice for wintering colonies in Northern Maine. I am new to bees and I guess that my biggest fear will be to find that they cannot survive the winter. We can have several days of below zero weather... I know someone in my area used to gas his bees every fall and I don't want to keep bees if I have to do that. If anyone has specific advice on what to do to ensure I have happy healthy bees in the spring, please let me know. Thanks. -deggary

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Bowdoinham, Maine, USA
    Posts
    78
    Welcome aboard deggary,

    wintering bees should not be a problem for you. You want a good strong colony with plenty of stores in a well maintained hive, with a reduced front entrance, wrapped with a layer of tar (roofing) paper, with an insulated inner cover to absorb condensation. Wrapping the hive in tar paper will help block any strong, cold wind and help absorb warmth from the sun.

    Make certain the bees can leave the hive through a reduced entrance as well as any top entrances as they will want to take cleansing flights at every available opportunity.

    Understand, there are more reasons that prolonged cold temperatures that kill bees in the winter. A colony with a heavy infestation of mites will have a tough time making the trip. A dose of fumidil (for nosema) in sugar syrup can help this time of year also by cleaning their little systems out.

    Just keep in mind it is normal to lose bees in the winter time, but it can feel worse if you have one or two hives and lose one or both than if you have a dozen and lose three.

    Hope this all helps. Keep in touch, let us know how everything turns out.

    David

    ------------------
    Maine-ly Bees
    David Wallace and Family
    Bowdoinham, ME
    dwallace@llbean.com

    [This message has been edited by mainelybees (edited September 29, 2002).]

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,320

    Post

    There are people I know of who overwinter bees in Ontario. I don't see why you couldn't. Th preceeding post is good advice. I'd treat for mites before winter. I think that is the cause of a lot of loses.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Mapleton, ME
    Posts
    28

    Post

    Thanks for the info. It is good to know that the little girls can make it.

    I have had a thought of taking the two inch thick blue insulation board and cutting pieces to fit the sides of the hives...anyone ever try this?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,320

    Post

    If you do that and put the tar paper on the outside to hold it together, I think it would work well. It's expensive if you don't have access to scraps. Try new housing sites there is often enough in the dumptser to do a hive or two.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Bowdoinham, Maine, USA
    Posts
    78

    Post

    I would have my reservations about using any type of insulation on a hive. Keep in mind that the warmer the hive is, the more active the bees inside will be and the more they will eat. A couple problems you can run into there, A)the more they eat the faster they will run out of stores. B)the more they eat the sooner they need to go on a cleansing flight, and if it is too cold they can't do this. There is a fine line in temperatures when overwintering hives. Too cold, bees won't move to get more honey, too warm and they deplete their stores too soon. This is all my opinion, it may work fine for you. If you have a couple hives try it on one this year and see if you like it, can't hurt to try.

    Wrapping tar paper around the insulation I think will defeat the purpose, the tar paper is supposed to help warm the hive during the day from the sun, I don't think the warmth wil make it through the insulation very well.

    Let us know what you do and how it works for you. Beekeepers are an ingenious lot and that's great. It's all part of the fun.

    Happy Bee'ing.

    David

    ------------------
    Maine-ly Bees
    David Wallace and Family
    Bowdoinham, ME
    dwallace@llbean.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Location
    Nehawka, Nebraska USA
    Posts
    46,320

    Post

    I have always thought they would think it was warm and go flying. Sometimes they do that when I don't insulate them. People who raise bees in colder climates than me think they eat LESS when it's insulated and do better in the winter. I haven't insulated because I thought they would fly. I have an indoor observation hive this winter and we'll see if they get confused. People who believe in the insualtion tell me that they judge the temperature by the air at the entrance, not in the hive.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Mapleton, ME
    Posts
    28

    Post

    Oh boy, now I am a little confused.

    David, i see that you live in ME, how do you prepare your hives for winter?

    Please keep in mind, I don't have any hives yet, just a little book learn'in....
    Plan to start a couple of hives in the spring.

    BTW, does anyone have an email address for Harold Swan in Brewer ME? I heard he sales bees in the spring. Thanks.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Bowdoinham, Maine, USA
    Posts
    78

    Post

    deggary,
    don't worry, we'll all get you on the right path.
    All I do for my bees is use the 3/8th inch entrance, reduced to two inches long, this helps to block any wind coming from the south and keep out the mice. Next I wrap my hives with a layer of tar paper, this helps block the wind and absorb some of the suns warmth. I also install an insulating cover between the outer and inner covers to help keep in the warmth and absorb any condensation. I cut a hole through the wrap at any upper entrances for ventilation. I have had hives die in the winter before but I don't believe any were due to the cold weather.

    I have two hives in my home yard that I put screened bottom boards on this summer and I plan on leaving them on all winter as an experiment. With the right amount of snow they should be fine. I'll let you know how they do.

    I have often wondered about putting hay bales on three sides of a hive to see if this would help in the winter. Too costly probably. But I am still a firm believer that too much insulating can be as bad as too little.

    I'll look around for an address for Harold. I've never done business with him but I can ask around.

    Have a great day. David

    ------------------
    Maine-ly Bees
    David Wallace and Family
    Bowdoinham, ME
    dwallace@llbean.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Enfield,Ct.
    Posts
    470

    Post

    deggary
    My inlaws are from Mapleton and my father-in law claims it never was that cold in the winter.something about baked potatoes in his pockets to keep his hands warm on the way to school.You are in luck because the Eastern Apicultural Society is having its annual meeting this year in Bowdoinham,and will have one of the best bee schools around(http://www.easternapiculture.org/about/). Rick Cooper of Bowdoinham is this years president(president@easternapiculture.org )and I'm sure he will be glad to help in your quest for bees. Jack

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