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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello I am pretty new to this and I have two hives this year and am trying to figure out how to get them through a michigan winter. I bought two hotboxes and I made hive wraps but now I'm stuck. I have the ultimate bottom board and hive stand under both hives. They are screen bottoms with beetle traps idk if I can keep those in place or take them off and put on a solid bottom?. the next problem is how do I feed my fondant without messing up the air flow to the hotbox? Do I just put it on the top of the frames? I am really stuck any help would be greatly appreciated
Thanks
 

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5 ,8 ,10 frame, and long Lang
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Hi Val,

welcome to Beesource

where in Michigan?
what is the hive configuration?
Expand the "Hot Box" what is it?

the stuck ? will the hive wraps not fit with your beetle traps in place or what is the stuck about, can you just not put the wrap on as is?

you need to help define your issue with a bit more detail, I am not sure what to offer, other that you should have got stuck 4 weeks ago it is November and here this AM was in the 20's

Next week looks like 60's I'd do the hive manipulation elements then as it may be the last chance.

GG
 

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Just make sure they don't have mites and they have 60+ pounds of honey and no way for rain to get in. If they have mites, or not enough food - their chances aren't so great.

As a new beekeeper my first question is mites. How many mites do they have? When did you treat?

Here's the hot box. 10 Frame Hot Box and Moisture Board
 

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one can DIY "hotbox" for quite a lot less.

Again - that hotbox won't prevent you from buying Mann Lake bees in the spring if you didn't apply the Mann lake mite treatments.

sold seperately.

Did you buy the mann lake prosweet sugar? That's sold separately.

If not you can buy the mann lake fondant, also sold separately.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi all thanks for the very judgemental responses. Your right the hot box is a glorified quilt box...the issues with building my own is that I am an ER nurse and I an working 4-5 twelve hour shifts every week on top of that running a farm when I get home and already racking up only 3-4 hours of sleep on the days I get home so buying these things just makes more sense at this point. I am in southwest lower Michigan. I have treated for mites with Apivar, mite count is low o think I had about 6 mites on average per day with the sticky board. I realize I am a bit behind but I can only do what I can do at this point.
 

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Hi all thanks for the very judgemental responses. Your right the hot box is a glorified quilt box...the issues with building my own is that I am an ER nurse and I an working 4-5 twelve hour shifts every week on top of that running a farm when I get home and already racking up only 3-4 hours of sleep on the days I get home so buying these things just makes more sense at this point. I am in southwest lower Michigan. I have treated for mites with Apivar, mite count is low o think I had about 6 mites on average per day with the sticky board. I realize I am a bit behind but I can only do what I can do at this point.
Been there-done that. I am a retired RN who worked 12 hour shifts. It can drain you, especially when other tasks need attention. The money and benefits are good.
Look into doing alcohol washes to check mite levels since it is way more accurate for checking mite populations. This is the best time of the year to treat for mites with oxalic acid since the brood is open and OA is very effective at killing mites when the brood is open.
 

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Val
if the hives are 3 deep then leave the Screened bottom
If they are one deep then you can lift off and replace easier, sorry I am not sure of what you have.
next week i see some 60 degree days I would do one of those days if you plan to change the Bottoms out then. If the hive is more than one box IMO it is late to tear apart and rebuild, doable but with risk if the queen gets squished then it is too late to replace. if the cold comes quick re sealing may not be complete.

wrap the quilt/wrap you have, as is, if that is your best option, you can if it is not yet done add your hot boxes, when I break seals this late I wrap the crack with 2 inch painters tape to reseal for them in a manner.

ideally the wrap covers the seam at the hot box/hive junction, while leaving the screened hole if present open to air. and just goes as low as it can, I use a para cord to tie in 3 places , hi, lo, middle. If the cover seems to not cover the edges where the wrap is, place something bigger on the lid to prevent rain and ice from going in between the hive and wrap. One of my mentees uses a piece of ply or chip board 24x32 (6 per sheet) with tar paper stapled onto it staples down. bricks on top.

the hive needs to stay dry as possible and not have entrances blocked, keep in mind the bees need to come and go wrapped if it is a nice day.

Will you have a day to finish?
Or were you asking for someones time?
time is money, do not let the "exuberance " of some of the comments deter you, All mean well.

GG

On the screened BB tape any cracks, and put in the tray or most solid drawer type element that came with it.
some low in the hive air exchange is OK wide open screen IMO is too much air for Michigan.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you guys so.much. I took a three day wknd. So I should be able to get everything done Friday. One hive is one deep. My other hive is two deep. The wraps I made are heavy plastic and insulation and are solid from the bottom up. The screened bottoms have a solid plastic peice that came with them but my husband thinks he can make me a solid wood insert. Can I feed fondant on top of the frames? Or will that just make a mess and stop my air flow, I mean I wouldn't like drape it across the whole thing but maybe down the middle or around the edge? Thanks again
 

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Thank you guys so.much. I took a three day wknd. So I should be able to get everything done Friday. One hive is one deep. My other hive is two deep. The wraps I made are heavy plastic and insulation and are solid from the bottom up. The screened bottoms have a solid plastic peice that came with them but my husband thinks he can make me a solid wood insert. Can I feed fondant on top of the frames? Or will that just make a mess and stop my air flow, I mean I wouldn't like drape it across the whole thing but maybe down the middle or around the edge? Thanks again
sounds like you should be fine then.
the single can be lifted by your Husband and the bottom swapped in a couple min. the other one only if it is light enought.
then add the hot boxes. I am not familiar with the hot box you have, but to feed the fondant it would be better if the bottom had a hole or was open. you have a point about the blocking the gap in between the frames.

Is there enough stores in the hive for winter? if yes then the fondant can be kept till spring as the feb march window requires some feed if stores are low as the bees tend to start brood sometime in feb.

if the hot box has a bottom to hold shavings for example, you could try the following if you still want to have fondant on now.
place an empty super on the hive, lay some small sticks cross wise over the frames 3/8 x 1/2 X 12 inch for example.
if wood scraps are not readily available 4 pencils would work. then lay the fondant on top of the sticks, air can get around the feed and bee movement is also helped.
you mentioned you were on a farm, so on top of the fondant I would place a cut piece from a feed bag so it goes up the side walls 1/2 way, like 20x 26 inch guessing here. press the corners down to attempt a close enough seal the bees cannot get by.
then an old folded towel, 3-6 layers thick, then the hot box with shavings. old coat also works, in a pinch straw would work, the feed bag would keep the parts and pieces from falling on the bees. (i have a planner and use shavings)
you can on a nice day in late jan early feb open, down to the bees and add another fondant or a pollen patty or a sugar brick and put it all back. tape the crack where the super sets on the hive to prevent wind from blowing in, and any checks or add of feed can be done with out breaking that seal.

I also put on a 1/2 x 1/2 mesh on the entrance to keep the mice out, on a farm you may have some looking for a warm place to move into.

then add the wrap wrap, the hive box the bees are in as a priority, then if it covers the super, and part of the hot box fine. make sure the entrance is not blocked as the bees need to fly on occasion and need air, a full width is not necessary 4 inches should be enough.

PM me if I am not clear

GG
 

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Thank you guys so.much. I took a three day wknd. So I should be able to get everything done Friday. One hive is one deep. My other hive is two deep. The wraps I made are heavy plastic and insulation and are solid from the bottom up. The screened bottoms have a solid plastic peice that came with them but my husband thinks he can make me a solid wood insert. Can I feed fondant on top of the frames? Or will that just make a mess and stop my air flow, I mean I wouldn't like drape it across the whole thing but maybe down the middle or around the edge? Thanks again
1) mites 2) feed 3) dry and insulated. Other ideas- cut an oversized rectangle out of coroplast board (very thin white board you can get it at Home Depot) I use them as an oversize rain roof cinched down with a brick on top for high winds. I have about 5 inches extra on each side to keep rain/snow from blowing onto the hives. Also- cannot be overstated- have a way of supplemental feeding in winter. I have a Vivaldi board on every hive that uses a screened rectangular feeder within it (so they can't fly out). During winter I open up the very top of the stack and pour sugar and spray some water to create a sugar slurry. They won't take liquid feed but they will eat a slurry. This is covered by burlap and insulation. I just peel it back, pour sugar and spritz water and put burlap/insulation back on. Water in winter is the great understated important story in beekeeping. I lightly spritz the sugar to keep them hydrated in my dry desert climate. I check and pour sugar/spritz avg of once a week in winter- 1 minute tops. If you open only the very top of the stack it offers very little disruption.
 

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PS- had to laugh at your response about comments being judgmental. We've all been there. The first year is hard so please stick with us. Comments can come off as harsh but just know that people responding to you are very sincere in wanting to do right by your colonies. We are in the thick of it right now. Colonies not properly prepared start to die off right about now.

I totally get why you'd want to buy a hot box. I see it as a quilt box and essential for over wintering. Gotta say though I despise moisture boards which looks like it sits on top. I'd rather use burlap and insulation from Home Depot. Moisture boards turn slimey here. I need some moisture wicking and burlap is great for that.
 

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I totally get why you'd want to buy a hot box. I see it as a quilt box and essential for over wintering. Gotta say though I despise moisture boards which looks like it sits on top. I'd rather use burlap and insulation from Home Depot. Moisture boards turn slimey here. I need some moisture wicking and burlap is great for that.
Firstly, I have never liked moisture boards. They are good at absorbing moisture but then they develop mold and not easy to remove the mold. I don't use them at all.

I winter with quilt boxes(filled with pet shavings) and quite like the way they slow upward air movement, absorb moisture, and vent it out the top. I don't understand the moisture board on top of Mann Lake hot box. It will get moist and likely mold and it is blocking moisture being released to the air. I suppose the moisture board does provide a bit of insulation. The top side of the quilt box should have free air flow over top so moisture can be released to the air.

You also need just a small top entrance or no top entrance at all. The quilt box is very good at absorbing moisture. I always have a small (1/2 inch round hole)back up entrance in front side of brood boxes or in feed shim just in case bottom entrance gets blocked by dead bees or ice. However, the more you vent the hive by bottom entrances and top entrances and even the quilt box, the more cooling of the cluster and the more honey they consume. There is also more moisture released by the bees and more need for defecation.

The quilt box with shavings is so good at keeping the hive interior dry, that there may not bee enough moisture for the bees to ingest. Beekeepers are trying a cold surface area to get condensation to occur there or installing a plastic over the frames to collect moisture for the bees to use.
 
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I have treated for mites with Apivar, mite count is low o think I had about 6 mites on average per day with the sticky board.
The biggest killers of bees in winter are not enough food, and mites.

To know you are good you really need the equivalent of a near full box of honey on the hive. As to mites, if you were getting a drop of 6 per day while the treatment was in, that is acceptable. But if the 6 per day was when there was no treatment in, ie, what they call a "natural drop", 6 daily is a worrisome number going into winter, it could represent a much bigger number of mites.

The trick to winter survival is threefold. Healthy bees, well provisioned with food bees, and well housed bees.

After that other things can go wrong such as an unexpected queen failure, hives attacked by bears, stuff like that. But those are more rare, get the important 3 right to the very best of your ability, and you can expect good results.
 

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Hi Val and welcome to the forum and beekeeping. First let me say that nobody is judging you, it just sounds that way online when people are trying to give advice.
I think you are off to a good start, and are asking good questions. In an effort to simplify things I will suggest that your winter configuration is fine with some tweaks:
I would close up the screened bottom board with something but my choice would be a piece of foamboard below the screen. You can raise the hive with scrap wood if necessary. 3/4" thick is fine. You should also have a piece of foamboard under your outer cover. Cut to friction fit. Again 3/4" is fine. Proven to eliminate condensation dripping down into the hive.
Look up Lauri's sugar brick recipe on here. It will make a hard brick of sugar that you place on the top bars. You can make them the thickness needed to fit below your hot box. The advantage is it will not melt/ drip like fondant. Do not deviate from the recipe. It will not seem wet enough, but it is. Do not add more liquid and do not heat. It will dry in open air in hours.
Finally, don't forget a mouse guard. Choke down your entrance. If you have the standard entrance reducer, use small notch, flipped up so they can crawl over dead bees to get out for cleansing flights on warm days.
Best of luck. You are on the right track. J
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thank you all so much! Using the advise you gave I think I have successfully winterized my hives to the best of my ability I did a sugar test for mites I had 5 per day. So I went ahead and treated again with OA. My small hive has absolutely no stores, which is not surprising they have not really done well at all they now have plenty of food between sugar bricks and winter patties. The larger hive is so heavy I can't pick it up, but I gave them a sugar brick too just incase. I put the plastic insert into the screen board, wrapped them in my home made cozy, and put on my hot boxes and metal mouse guards. They have a top and bottom entrance and I think they should be fine... I think 🤔. Thank you all again.
 
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