Going into Winter
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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
    Location
    Timonium, Maryland
    Posts
    382

    Default Going into Winter

    I have 2 hives with screen bottom boards and 2 deep boxes (a brood box and a super as I consider them). I also put top feeder and will feed them heavily until hives are heavy enough (about 60lb each, or as one beekeeper said "you should not be able to tilt it up easy").

    Now, for going to winter:

    1. should I close the screen board? I can put some R-19 house insulation or so to not let cold air get into the hive.

    2. should I wrap hive with insulating materials to keep it warm? Some styrofoam or so?

    3. when I remove top feeder, when is the time to put sugar brick on the top to continue feeding them?

    4. should I close top-cover hole and/or insulate top of the hive? put something under telescopic cover?

    I believe many more question will come up.
    I want to do my preparation to take care of my hives.

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Lebanon Pa
    Posts
    764

    Default Re: Going into Winter

    I would block sbb with a board or insulation have a top entrance and a wind break to keep strong winds from them
    Friend tells me take time to stop and smell the roses I say "I do then I take 10 steps quicker to make up for lost time"

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Montgomery county, MD
    Posts
    210

    Default Re: Going into Winter

    1. i have overwintered bees both with and without the screened bottom board closed off. very small sample size, but it didn't make a difference in this climate--bees survived the winter in MD both ways. that said, i usually do close the screened bottom board these days.
    2. i would not spend the time or money to do so in this climate. my bees appear to do quite a good job maintaining the temperatures they need. i have had bees "caught" at a food boundary (gap between boxes) when it got really cold suddenly. i think eliminating/minimizing the boundaries would have prevented that, but it's possible that insulation could have saved them.
    3. i put sugar bricks on when the daytime temps go below 50. they may or may not use them, and if they do, if i have fed them properly in fall they won't need them until much later than that, if ever. it's just the simplest thing for me to remember to put them on then.
    4. i believe it would be a mistake to close the top hole, as that is likely where humidity exits the hive in the greatest volume. same answer as #2 on insulation. i don't think you need it. i have put moisture boards (also assumed to have some insulating ability) on some hives and not others and i couldn't tell the difference.

    in the end if you want to insulate, go ahead, but it's probably not needed. worry about excess humidity from blocking off points of exit, and make sure your bees are adequately stocked.
    best wishes for a successful winter!

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,534

    Default Re: Going into Winter

    I don't put much reliance on the "tipping up easily" test. I can still tip up my hives "easily" when they weigh more than 130 lbs. Tipping up a box with a total of 60 lbs in hive weight can be done with just your finger tips as all you are hoisting is half that weight. And I am no weight-lifter, just a small, 66 year old woman.

    My SBB is always closed because I run with a solid board under it year-round.

    I install panels of foam insulation all around the hive (4" thick), but I am in a colder climate than you - two inches would be fine in MD. It has no chance of blocking air escape since the nature of bee-boxes, and most people's stacking, does not allow it to seal off anything, even when tightly strapped to the hive walls. I use ratchet straps.

    I don't install sugar blocks until I have done my last OAv treatment, around Christmas.

    I use quilt boxes to manage moisture within the stack during winter.

    I always have an upper entrance in winter (it is in the feeding rim which itself is above the uppermost box. I push-pin a cardboard cover to it with a finger tip hole in it and let the bees enlarge it if they want to.

    My lower entrance is always set to the small notch (notch up to preserve access if there are a lot of dead bees). And it is always covered with a sturdy mouse guard from the moment I take the robbing screens off. I have already watched field mice skittering across my stands, but all my hives have robbing screens on now, so the rodent can't get in.

    I have a piece of foam insulation in my telecover as much to raise it up above the vent holes in the shim above the QB as to insulate the hive.

    Enj.

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