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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    Noxon, Mt.
    Posts
    41

    Question Winter Insulation of Hives?

    I'm getting ready to winterize the hives ,Western Montana, and have a question. I'm thinking of not using the wood top and instead using the 2" foam board I'll use for the sides. Maybe router a slot for ventilation and bees. Any ideas or suggestions? Thanks for any help, PK.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Algoma dr. Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    815

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    If the bees are active at all they will tunnel into foam just for the fun of it! You will need some kind of facing over the foam.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,925

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    Foam board is much nicer than fiber glass bats. Mice make a mess of Fiberglass bats
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,863

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    Using the foam board on top is a good idea, except I would use it over top of my inner cover. Put the hole or notch for ventilation on the bottom rim of the inner cover instead. Mike Palmer tapes his center inner cover hole shut, that way the bees can't contact the foam at all. I think using foam on the sides of the hive is fine, but I would not use it on the south side which gets the most winter sun. Last year I used foam on three sides and felt paper stapled on the south side. John

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Dorset, Vermont
    Posts
    129

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    I'm getting ready to winterize the hives ,Western Montana, and have a question. I'm thinking of not using the wood top and instead using the 2" foam board I'll use for the sides. Maybe router a slot for ventilation and bees. Any ideas or suggestions?.
    Suggestions:

    Your telescoping cover top surface should be sheet metal not bare wood. Use a piece of 1" Dow styrofoam insulation inside the telescoping cover. Protect it from chewing with a piece of "coroplast" (political lawn sign material - readily available lately) laminated to the side facing the bees. Use it year 'round. If snow melts almost immediately from the top, you are not properly insulated. The same thing is happening to condensation inside.

    Is there little or no honey in the outboard frames of the top box? Replace the frames with styrofoam/coroplast cut to the same size as the inside wall of the box.

    Want to be really well insulated? Use straps from strapworks.com to hold styrofoam around the outside of the top box.

    Get an indoor/outdoor thermometer - put the outdoor sensor down thru the hole in the inner cover and look for temps at least 50 degrees higher than the outside temperature. Less than that in winter? Trouble. 95+ should be max winter and summer. Trouble.

    Don't even think about screened bottom boards.

    You want a small opening in the bottom and a small opening - a cut in the bottom half of your inner cover - for top ventilation.

    If you hear the idea that "bees heat the cluster, not the box so don't bother to insulate," smile and ignore.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Des Moines, Iowa
    Posts
    15

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    hi - i posted what we do in iowa at this link: https://picasaweb.google.com/1170028...eat=directlink

    though we do not insulate the sides, i can't see why this method would also work with side insulation.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,925

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    >>If you hear the idea that "bees heat the cluster, not the box so don't bother to insulate," smile and ignore.

    ha ha I agree too.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,863

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    You know, I always had doubts about bees just heating the cluster and not the box. Heat is heat, and if there is heat being produced then there is heat that can be preserved by insulation. John

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Manitoba Canada
    Posts
    5,925

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    I have debated this endlessly with other beekeepers.
    Yes, the ambient temp around the cluster is much the same as outside the hive, BUT
    those hives with insulation hold looser clusters because of the heat retention within the insulated hive body.
    Ian Steppler >> Canadian Beekeeper's Blog
    www.stepplerfarms.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Hudson, WI USA
    Posts
    2,198

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    For my nucs I use 2 inches of Dow foam insulation on top of a Feed Bag Inner Cover (FBIC). The FBIC stops them chewing on the foam. I have a 3/4" hole 3 inches from the top reduced by about 60% by a cut up plastic wine cork. http://s1110.photobucket.com/albums/...1-14082703.jpg

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Kenosha,WI
    Posts
    190

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    I use a 3" spacer with dry sugar for moisture control and emergency feed. The spacer has a 3/8" vent
    hole. Across the fees spacer I staple 4 mil poly film to protect a top made from 2" thick expanded polystyrene foam board. The hive is wrapped with black roofing felt for Draft protection and thermal gain on bright sunny days.

    Over the years, I have tried several winter setups and this has proven to work well here. My emergency sugar rarely gets used but ends up getting fed as 1:1 syrup in early spring. I simply sleep better knowing they have a Plan B.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,295

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    John, Ian, I agree with your statements, because during a long cold spell the bees could starve to death if the there was not enough heat inside the hive for them to move to capped honey. Each spring we see posts on here about dead hives and honey within 1" of the cluster, some added insulation is often wise in northern states. Yes heat can be preserved and we all must winterize to suit weather conditions where we live if our bees are to survive the winter.

    If the hive has plenty of honey then I place these items on the hives in this order, and if stores are low the I omit # 1 and 2 and place sugar on a piece of newspaper directly on the frames.

    1. queen excluder
    2. # 8 mesh screen
    3. 2 1/2" shim with 1/2" vent hole
    4. Fill shim with cedar wood chips
    5. inner cover
    6. 3/4" foam insulation
    7. outer teli cover
    8. felt wrap the hive
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,863

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    WWW, do you provide an upper entrance in the top box then? It seems like your way of wintering would be effective. John

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Belpre,Ohio, USA
    Posts
    1,295

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    John, no top entrance, just a reduced lower 3/4" x 3". I did a winter study last year with temperature readings inside and outside the hive, this is the link if you desire to view it, I made only a few winterizing changes for this year because of the study but for the most part my hives are set up the same way.
    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...record-keeping
    Bill...in Southeast Ohio

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Beulah,MI
    Posts
    67

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    I started using a simple idea I learned from an old beek who has passed long ago. set a empty shallow shell on top of the inner cover and fill with a leaf of straw w/ lid on top. the straw absorbs excess moisture and provides some insulation factor. I simply wrap with tarpaper, for some solar gain on sunny 0 degree days, and have great over winter sucess in NW lower Michigan. Just be sure there is good air ventalation thru the top, and don't forget to feed the mice

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,863

    Default Re: Winter Insulation of Hives?

    I have about a dozen double high medium 5 frame nucs that I am trying to decide on how to winter, that's my biggest concern right now, I don't worry so much about the full size hives because they have sizable clusters, but I feel the nucs need some insulation help to get those smaller clusters through the winter ok. John

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