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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    This my first year of beekeeping and I'm getting ready to winterize the top bar hive. Anyone have suggestions as to what I can use to insulate it once the weather gets cold here in North Carolina? Right now I just have a tarp over it on three sides with the front still open so they can get out and forage on the warmer days. If it's a typical NC winter we'll only have a few days where the temps go below the 20s overnight and not a lot of snow or ice. We do usually have quite a few days of cold rainy weather during the winter. What do you top bar hive folks use for insulation?
    I eat my peas with honey. Iíve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny. But it keeps them on the knife!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,734

    Default Re: How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    My top bar hives do fine in our winters without any insulation - just the wood structure with its rainproof lid. I believe our winters are similar to Raleigh, my temperature extremes may average perhaps 5 degrees colder than yours.

    I suggest that you make sure that the tarp does not impede hive ventilation. Condensation dripping on the cluster can be deadly. My TBHs all have top entrances.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    Do your TBH's have an observation window? My main concern was that the glass window might not be too good for insulating the hive temperature particularly when it's cold and windy. That was my main reason for the tarp over the last few days. I've been taking it off when days are warm but I don't want to have to do that all winter.
    I eat my peas with honey. Iíve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny. But it keeps them on the knife!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,734

    Default Re: How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    I did build a plexiglass window into each side of the TBHs, but it also has a wooden insert/plug that blocks the window except when you want to look inside.
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Benton, Ky
    Posts
    83

    Default Re: How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    You can cut a piece of foam insulation and put it in between your window and the door if you have the room or you can tape the door shut if your afraid of drafts. On a warm day take out most of the empty bars and store them. Move your follower board closer to the cluster. Then stuff the inside of the hive and above the bars if possible with straw. Thats how i do it.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    hinesville ga usa
    Posts
    405

    Default Re: How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    ventilation is far more important than trying to keep the bees warm, poor ventilation causes the bees to get wet and they soon die. The bees will keep themselves warm by producing friction, as long as the cluster is large enough.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Rader, Greene County, Tennessee, USA
    Posts
    6,734

    Default Re: How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    Bees can literally "unhook" at least one set of wings and then "shiver" those wing muscles to produce heat without moving those unhooked wings. More info and a remarkable photo is linked in this thread:

    http://www.beesource.com/forums/show...ghlight=unhook
    Graham
    USDA Zone 7A Elevation 1400 ft

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
    Location
    Raleigh, North Carolina, USA
    Posts
    186

    Default Re: How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    IMG_0806.jpgThanks for all the information. I'm constantly learning something on this forum. The bees just clustered on the end of the hive this weekend so I can got a fairly decent picture of some combs of honey. You just can't get a good picture through that glass window. They were still building new comb last week.
    I eat my peas with honey. Iíve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny. But it keeps them on the knife!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Grosse Ile, Michigan, USA
    Posts
    2,901

    Default Re: How to insulate a top bar hive for winter

    I don't feel you need to do anything in your area of the country other than maybe reducing your entrance if it is a large one, up here in Michigan I only put a piece of 1" foamboard on top of the top bars under the roof (I used gabled roofs), no other insulation. I have had better wintering success with top bar hives than Langs, can't say why that is.

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