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....