Wintering configuration
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Deer Lodge MT
    Posts
    859

    Default Wintering configuration

    I know there are discussions on here about this. I am a firm believer to ask a question more than once. Since the answers you get are different you get more differing opinions.

    I have a plan for wintering. In a couple of weeks I will probably start to configure the hive for our first winter.

    I have 10 frame Langs. Two deep with two supers. I plan on taking the upper super off and exchanging any full frames with any less than full frames on the lower super.

    I plan on feeding sugar bricks by placing them on a queen excluder. (Somewhere I heard to do this rather than place blocks directly on the top frames) To make room I have a small feeding shim I built. Above that I will put an inner cover for an upper enterance. Above that I will put a quilt box. Then to top it off I will place the outer cover.

    I do plan on insulating with foam board and wrapping with tar paper. Beyond that.....?

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Sandpoint, ID, USA
    Posts
    1,143

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    Your right, your going to get allot of answers. As usual it's a locality thing. Me, i have nothing to configure for winter. Everything stays the same and is as it should be.

    While hobbyists take the extra precautions against winter, what is it about the commercial guys? Why the disparity between the two?

    If what works for them on a large scale and they are successful, what makes a hobbyist think more is necessary?

    What I'm trying to get at, is i think, IMO, your doing too much.

    If your deeps are packed full of stores then you don't need the supers. If they're a bit light, sure, leave one on. But if you do, i see no reason to add a sugar brick also.

    Don't put any excluders on during the cold months or say goodbye to your queen!

    Simply put, reduce your entrances, provide a ventilation hole at the top and maybe a piece of insulation above the inner cover.

    Don't over think this, cause it sounds like you are.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Leominster, MA USA
    Posts
    219

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Aroc View Post

    I plan on feeding sugar bricks by placing them on a queen excluder. (Somewhere I heard to do this rather than place blocks directly on the top frames) To make room I have a small feeding shim I built. Above that I will put an inner cover for an upper enterance. Above that I will put a quilt box. Then to top it off I will place the outer cover.

    I do plan on insulating with foam board and wrapping with tar paper. Beyond that.....?
    No need for queen excluder. Put the bricks right on top of the frames. If you drill 1/2" hole in the front of the shim, no need for inner cover. I use a sheet of silver reflectex as an inner cover with a piece of rigid foam insulation under the outer cover. The reflectex allows you to peel it back for a peek without popping the whole cover and adds extra insulation. I use them year round. Reflectex comes on a roll for around $15 at Home Depot and cuts with scissors. I trim it back about 1/2" across the front for ventilation.

    Ramona

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    St. Michael, MN
    Posts
    692

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by hex0rz View Post
    While hobbyists take the extra precautions against winter, what is it about the commercial guys? Why the disparity between the two?

    If what works for them on a large scale and they are successful, what makes a hobbyist think more is necessary?

    What I'm trying to get at, is i think, IMO, your doing too much.
    Curious how many hives do you run, and what is your typical winter loss percentage?

    I'm certainly not disagreeing with you, but I see it from the hobbyist point of view and I feel there's a greater risk of loss for the hobbyist, hence the need (desire) to do more to ensure successful overwintering. A hobbyist who has 2 hives and loses 2 hives in winter has a 100% loss with no means to restart those deadouts in the spring without a cash outlay. The hobbyist is willing to do more to ensure those two hives make it through winter. A commercial operation has more options to recover those hives. Beekeeping is not sustainable if you have to buy bees every spring.

    I agree with the advice not to use the queen excluder. Based on what I've learned, the cluster will move above the excluder and the queen will be left below to freeze.

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Location
    Morris Plains, NJ USA
    Posts
    693

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    For Montana rigid foam insulation sounds like an excellent idea. Our winters here in NJ can be brutal some years so I duct tape rigid foam insulation around my hives; I've never lost a hive to winter in my four years as a beek.

    Each hive gets a chunk of sugar but the bees don't consume it anymore; it's just added insurance. If a hive is very heavy it should have sufficient stores to get through a winter.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    May 2016
    Location
    Deer Lodge MT
    Posts
    859

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by hex0rz View Post

    Don't put any excluders on during the cold months or say goodbye to your queen!

    The queen excluder is simply for a place to put the bricks. There is no stores above to keep from the queen.

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    St. Michael, MN
    Posts
    692

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Aroc View Post
    The queen excluder is simply for a place to put the bricks. There is no stores above to keep from the queen.
    Umm, what do you think the bricks are, if not stores? The whole reason you're putting those bricks on is for insurance in case they run out of stores below.

    It's your queen. Go ahead and try it if you want. Let us know how she fairs in the spring.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    St. Albans, Vermont
    Posts
    8,226

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Aroc View Post
    Beyond that.....?
    Well, consolidating the supers so there is a full super on top is a good plan. Then I would weigh the hive. In Montana, I would expect you would want the hive to weigh about 150-160 lbs, same as in Vermont. Feed 2:1 syrup until they are at that weight.

    Then you can forget about the excluder and the sugar brick.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Keene, NH, USA
    Posts
    254

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    Also, don't put the quilt box above the inner cover. You want the moisture being absorbed by the shavings in the quilt box. By putting the inner cover underneath it you decrease the likelihood of moisture reaching the quiltbox and condensing on the inner cover instead.
    11 yrs, TF 6 yrs, moved to OAV in 2014, MAQS 2016. 6 hives and 5 nucs Zone 4B
    www.nhbees.wordpress.com

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    Location
    Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
    Posts
    1,477

    Default Re: Wintering configuration

    Quote Originally Posted by Eyeshooter View Post
    Also, don't put the quilt box above the inner cover. You want the moisture being absorbed by the shavings in the quilt box. By putting the inner cover underneath it you decrease the likelihood of moisture reaching the quiltbox and condensing on the inner cover instead.
    My quilt box works just fine above the inner cover. Inner cover has a 3 1/2 inch round hole and a 3/8 inch upper rim and a 1 1/2 notch in upper rim. Warm moist air rises through 3 1/2 and disperses in 3/8 rim and exhausts through notch and through the quilt box..

    Inner covers have been used under telescopic covers forever. Placing a quilt box above the inner cover somehow does make the inner cover a condensation plane.

    I also have a 3/4 inch hole in the feed shim below the inner cover.

    It is easier to scrape the bees off the underside of the inner cover than the wire mesh and cloth of the underside of the inner.

    It is quite alright to use an inner with a quilt box above it. Zero(touch wood) winter losses doing it this way.
    Zone 3b. If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got!

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