wrapping hives in a cold climate
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 24
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2015
    Location
    Edgerton, Minnesota, USA
    Posts
    13

    Default wrapping hives in a cold climate

    I live in southern MN, so our winters tend to be very long and very cold. I have heard of using old quilts/blankets to wrap their hives over the winter, and I'm wondering if anyone has ever tried this? Last year I didn't wrap my hives, and during one particularly long, cold snap, two of my three hives froze to death. I do plan to use tar paper to wrap them this year, but am wondering if using blankets instead would be beneficial?

  2. Remove Advertisements
    BeeSource.com
    Advertisements
     

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Location
    Lambton Shores, Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    251

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    I would be worried about the blankets getting wet and then freezing, at which point they'd no longer warm the hive and may even act to cool it slightly via evaporative cooling. Maybe if it was under the tar paper? There are a lot of cheap options for adding insulation; many people build shells out of rigid insulation, other (myself included) use the foiled bubble-wrap like insulation, etc.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Grand Rapids MI USA
    Posts
    1,402

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    Ya, anything that absorbs water is going to be detrimental.
    Rod

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,514

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    I once wrapped my hives in wool blankets, covered loosely with a tarp to keep them dry. (These weren't fake wool moving blankets, but real ones.) Real wool is still insulating, even when wet, and when it passes through the wet/dry cycle it gives off heat.

    I only did it one year, though it was quite successful. It turned out to be a royal PITA and now I use foam insulation pieces all around my hives. I use a 2" plus a l" thick layers, to get a nominal R-15. They last very well: some pieces are 6 years old and still in service despite being exposed to sunlight for five or six months of the year.

    The traditional wrapping, black roofing paper, is only an infiltration barrier/wind block. It has next to no insulative benefit. And because of the physics of temperature radiation and time it may result in a net loss of heat from the hive over the course of 24 hours.

    Foam insulation is the best bet, I think. The 24" wide slabs are well matched to hive dimensions, but the 48" wide pieces are a bit cheaper. The least expensive, but still very satisfactory, is the green-colored, house-brand at Lowes. Those sometimes come with square, not T&G, edges which saves trimming.

    Nancy

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    Milford, Michigan USA
    Posts
    287

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    If you chose to insulate then Nancy gave good advice. You may benefit from reading an article from Beeculture magazine on the subject. Https://beeculture.com/winter-management.

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Douglassville Pa
    Posts
    174

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    I once wrapped my hives in wool blankets, covered loosely with a tarp to keep them dry. (These weren't fake wool moving blankets, but real ones.) Real wool is still insulating, even when wet, and when it passes through the wet/dry cycle it gives off heat.

    I only did it one year, though it was quite successful. It turned out to be a royal PITA and now I use foam insulation pieces all around my hives. I use a 2" plus a l" thick layers, to get a nominal R-15. They last very well: some pieces are 6 years old and still in service despite being exposed to sunlight for five or six months of the year.

    The traditional wrapping, black roofing paper, is only an infiltration barrier/wind block. It has next to no insulative benefit. And because of the physics of temperature radiation and time it may result in a net loss of heat from the hive over the course of 24 hours.

    Foam insulation is the best bet, I think. The 24" wide slabs are well matched to hive dimensions, but the 48" wide pieces are a bit cheaper. The least expensive, but still very satisfactory, is the green-colored, house-brand at Lowes. Those sometimes come with square, not T&G, edges which saves trimming.

    Nancy
    Micheal Palmer uses nothing but tar paper with great success !! 2in of Styrofoam on top with a top entrance for ventilation

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2017
    Location
    Baltimore County, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    88

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    I don't think tar paper has an R value.

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Turnbow Hollow, Tennessee
    Posts
    426

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    Quote Originally Posted by masselinkgreg View Post
    I live in southern MN, so our winters tend to be very long and very cold. I have heard of using old quilts/blankets to wrap their hives over the winter, and I'm wondering if anyone has ever tried this? Last year I didn't wrap my hives, and during one particularly long, cold snap, two of my three hives froze to death. I do plan to use tar paper to wrap them this year, but am wondering if using blankets instead would be beneficial?
    I am going to have to disagree with Nancy. In your climate, I would suggest obtaining some wax dipped or well painted/sealed migratory outer covers and install them which will allow you to push your hives together if they are on the same hive stand/bench. This will greatly help them to conserve heat and reduce thermal heat loss. Wrapping them in Reflectix (Lowes & Home Depot carry it) to at least 3 layers I would go 4 or 5 in your climate. Secure the Reflectix with some hive straps. Ensure you leave an upper and lower entrance and you can even add a hot box/medium or deep box screened on the bottom and filled with your favorite insulation (cedar or other wood shavings come to mind). Place the on top of the hive, then the migratory cover, and lastly a layer of Reflectix over the top of the outer covers to keep rain, snow, etc out (strap in place). You want to make it secure but not so much that it is a big pain to open back up to supplemental feed over the Winter if required. DO NOT use polystyrene insulation board unless you are POSITIVE that you have killed ALL the ants near your hives. Ants LOVE polystyrene and turn it into swiss cheese making ant nests in it. They cannot do this with styrofoam and I think polyisocyonate insulation board because it is very soft.

    You will have to experiment to see what all works best for you and your location. You MUST ensure adequate ventilation in the hive to prevent condensation and mold build up.

    Lastly, if you can afford it, I HIGHLY recommend a FLIR ONE Pro or LT. These work on your smart phone and can take fantastic thermal images that clearly show you where your hives are losing heat and are excellent in helping you determine where in the hive, the Winter cluster is located (provided the insulation is removed). You can call FLIR and order one.

    https://www.flir.com/products/flir-o...el=435-0011-03

    https://cart.flir.com/DRHM/store?Act...eID=1187551000

    If you tell them you are a beekeeper, they are currently offer a 25% discount and a free FLIR Power Bank with the purchase. I got the FLIR ONE Pro. It takes better and more detailed images among other things.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    5,157

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    here is a utube video comparing reflectix to duct wrap, now how do you figure in the heat put out by the cluster??

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Epxt30Ws9xE
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Location
    Crown Point, NY, USA
    Posts
    559

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    My 2 cents over 25+ years of keeping bees is: insulation board over the cluster trumps wrapping hives every time. Wrapping is most beneficial in older equipment that just isn't tight and the wind blows threw the cracks. On new equipment wrapping is mostly wasted energy. Strong healthy hives really don't need excess pampering.

    Clay- NY

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Turnbow Hollow, Tennessee
    Posts
    426

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    Quote Originally Posted by wildbranch2007 View Post
    here is a utube video comparing reflectix to duct wrap, now how do you figure in the heat put out by the cluster??

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Epxt30Ws9xE
    Duct wrap or bat insulation will insulate circles around reflectix..........until it gets wet. Reflectix is not an ideal insulation wrap but it is not or very little effected by water. Bee Cozies are the best bet for individual hive wrap/insulation but once a mouse eats a hole them and they get wet, they become useless for hive insulation. Reflectix is cheap, easy to use, easy to store, reusable, and provides more than adequate insulation if wrapped in enough layers. Duct wrap or bat insulation would probably work well if a water proof layer of plastic or Reflectix was secured on top to keep it dry.

    The best results I have obtained was polystyrene insulation board under a Bee Cozy or Reflectix. This season I am going to experiment with Johns Mansville Polyisocyonate insulation board that comes in 4 x 8 sheets, is 1.5 inches thick, and has thick aluminum foil on both sides.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    457

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    I use the 1" styrafoam insulation that they sell at the hardware store and cut it to size. I attach it with 1 inch straps cinched down. I paint the outside black.

    FYI, spray paint eats the styrafoam if you spray it on to thick.

  14. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Massillon, Ohio
    Posts
    5,521

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    There are so many various ways to prepare colonies for overwintering, and we hear positive success stories with almost every different method. Have there been any controlled studies in the same apiary comparing spring colony strength where hives have been overwintered with and without wrapping? I wonder how much of an impact wrapping actually has, all things being equal. When May rolls around and the spring flow starts up, are there measurable differences comparing colonies that were overwintered with and without wrapping?

    It's something I'm curious about, and I wonder how much is gained with the effort. I'm in Clayton's group, I insulate the cover but have never wrapped my hives. Healthy and well provisioned hives going into winter seem to make it through to spring just fine without wrapping them, at least where I'm located here in Ohio. However, if a study has been done which demonstrates a significant gain in the spring strength of hives that have been wrapped it might be something I would consider.

    Guess I'm at a point right now where I try to keep things simple, and if it ain't broke don't fix it. I've been at it long enough where I have found my comfort zone with managing the hives and feel no need to experiment with new methods. At the same time I try to keep an open mind, and if measurable benefits can be demonstrated and replicated each year I guess it would be worth looking into.

    On the other hand, I wonder what potential unwanted side effects there could be if wrapping actually creates an environment where hives are more robust in the early spring months. By assisting a colony to build up earlier in the spring than normal could I actually be increasing the potential for swarming and creating more work for myself with spring swarm prevention management. I guess that would be a benefit for someone planning to do spring splits, but if one is trying to keep the overwintered hives intact for honey production it might actually be a negative, looking at the bigger picture.
    To everything there is a season....

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Rutland County, Vermont,USA
    Posts
    2,015

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    All good questions Mike. I am not aware of any studies and would like to know if there are any also. My gut tells me that keeping them dry and out of the wind is far more important than keeping them "warm". J

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Great Falls Montana
    Posts
    7,777

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    My bees get insulated wraps, ten pounds of mountain camp sugar on the top bars, a 1"ventilation/entrance hole bored in the top hive body, two inch epe insulation on top and mite treatment in August or earlier. I killed hundreds of colonies learning how to winter in Northern North Dakota and life is so much better since I started going to all this extra work.

  17. #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    459

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    I’ve never used blankets to wrap my hives. I would not use a blanket unless there was some way to keep it dry. I would not want to deal with soaked material in the cold. A trip to Lowe’s for some 1-2 inch insulation sounds more appealing.

    You may want to search around this forum or the internet and find out what the locals do for winter. There may be a state publication regarding overwintering that would help.

    I have 30 hives. I live in Tennessee. I average 4 to 6 weeks of winter temps consistently below 45 degrees as a daytime high. Not 4 to 6 months! Keep this in mind.

    My current philosophy is to manage space inside the hive for winter. Meaning if I have empty frames, I replace them with follower boards. If I have a deep with 4 frames of bees and the other 6 frames are packed with honey, I take 2 frames out and replace them with follower boards. A frame of honey per frame of bees.

    Open space inside a hive during winter robs heat from the bees.
    Zone 7a - 1650ft

  18. #17
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    syracuse n.y.
    Posts
    5,157

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    I've never needed to wrap or do moisture control on full size hives, but have always had moisture problem's in over wintered nucs, tried just about everything with no fixes. this is what I'm looking at this year, anybody tried or got any information??

    ESP 16GPILL1818 Poly-Cellulose Universal Super Absorbent Pillow, 36 Gallon Oil/17 Gallon Water Absorbency, 18" Length x 18" Width, Gray (Case of 16)
    https://www.amazon.com/ESP-16GPILL18...8-2&ref=sr_1_2

    I've used all kinds of STUFF above the cluster, for the cost they are cheaper than using ceder shavings.
    mike syracuse ny
    Whatever you subsidize you get more of. Ronald Reagan

  19. #18
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Rensselaer County, NY, USA
    Posts
    5,514

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    The materials above the colony that are intended to absorb water vapor should also be able to release it out to the environment on an on-going basis when conditions are right. Otherwise you're just collecting a soggy mess.

    For industrial absorbent materials, I'd worry that their essential purpose is to grab and hold on to the vapor/moisture.

    Pine shavings are ideal since they allow have excellent through-put of the moisture. They are cleaner (compared to leaves, straw or shop-floor sawdust). There is a wide mix of sizes among the individual pieces so they pack well. They are untreated, lightweight, inexpensive, readily available, reusable for years, and ultimately recyclable as smoker fuel or mulch in your garden.

    Nancy

  20. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2016
    Location
    Du Bois pennsylvana usa
    Posts
    22

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    Yep when Mike says something I take it to heart. He's the master

  21. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Stockholm, NJ, USA
    Posts
    310

    Default Re: wrapping hives in a cold climate

    Quote Originally Posted by enjambres View Post
    The materials above the colony that are intended to absorb water vapor should also be able to release it out to the environment on an on-going basis when conditions are right. Otherwise you're just collecting a soggy mess.

    For industrial absorbent materials, I'd worry that their essential purpose is to grab and hold on to the vapor/moisture.

    Pine shavings are ideal since they allow have excellent through-put of the moisture. They are cleaner (compared to leaves, straw or shop-floor sawdust). There is a wide mix of sizes among the individual pieces so they pack well. They are untreated, lightweight, inexpensive, readily available, reusable for years, and ultimately recyclable as smoker fuel or mulch in your garden.

    Nancy
    What about shredded paper? has anyone use them for moisture absorbency?

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •