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Hi again. I desperatly need advise. I am in southern/central Manitoba and plan to overwinter my bees. Temps here get down to -40c in the winter so it's very cold, but this hive has been overwintered before (by the person I bought them from who is retiring now, not me). I have tried to find information but because climates vary so much I am having a hard time finding information that is right for me!

I know I need to insulate them but what is the best kind of insulation?

What about ventilation and allowing the moisture to escape without letting in snow and cold?

Is there a difference in wrapping/insulation if I move them to a shed versus on a deck in the field?

How much honey/room do they need? All my supers are deep by the way. I've heard 2 brood chambers is good, but do they need more? How much sugar water should I be feeding them - I put some in the hive in ziploc bags with little nicks in the plastic for the to suck from and not drown but they are still slow on filling the 2nd brood chamber on my one hive.

When do I need to put the wrap on to keep them warm?

Do I need to insulate the bottom of the hives if the are on a deck?

I would really appriciate it if anyone could answer even SOME of these questions. I want to make such my little bees are going to be alright over the winter! Thanks so much!

Laina
Manitoba, Canada
 

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I've never lived in that cold of a climate. In Western Nebraska and Eastern Wyoming we would get some -20 F for a while (-29 C) and in Laramie, WY I think we had an occasional low of -30F but -40 C (-40 F is the same temp) is significanlty colder. I have not wrapped except to put some foam insulation on top to cut down on condensation on the lid.

Some people in your area use fiberglass insulation wrapped around the hive. Some use styrofoam. Some wrap with 15# roofing felt.

One concern I have, here in Nebraska, is condensation. When it's that cold there can be a lot of it and if it melts and drips on the bees it can kill them. I would make sure you have some ventilation coming in the bottom and out the top to keep the condensation down.

Perhaps someone from Manitoba can offer more of their actual experience at those temps.
 

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Micheal hit it on the head.

I am a newbie but have researched it a bit. Do a search of this site on "wintering" and you will find a ton of info.

My weak hives (single deeps) may come indoors. This depends on how much feed they can put away when the flow stops here.

Myself...... I am going to wrap any hive that is outdoors in roofing felt, insulate the top with styrofoam, install mouse gaurds, and make sure there is adequate ventilation.

Is your site protected from the prevailing winter wind?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Unfortunatly Manitoba is prairie and has little protection from the wind. At what point in the year do you normally put on your winter wrap?
 

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Laina....... I am on the prarrie as well. My present yard is well protected.

Constructing a couple of small sections of fence to block the north and west would be fairly inexpensive.

How many colonies are you talking about??

If you have one or two you can move them in closer to your home once they are clustered for the winter.

When?? Before the snow won't let you ;)

Seriously for you probably late Oct/early Nov.

Mouse protection is a major item.
 

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Hi Laina:

I just returned from a fishing trip to Nipawin, Saskatchewan, not far from Tisdale's famous "Welcome to the land of rape and honey!" sign. This honey-producing region is quite a bit further north from where I believe you are located, and it is still open prairie.

As a beekeeper, I enjoyed discussing over-wintering, among other things, with the locals. As it is in my zone, the most important factor is ventillation. There must be a reduced entrance at the bottom of the hive which is kept free of ice and snow, plus an opening at or very near the top of the upper deep brood chamber. A 1-inch hole just above the finger recess will do the job, or a hole in the frame of the inner cover.

As for the wind: I have a thick cedar hedge around my apiary. On the prairies, carriganna does well and grows fast. In a pinch, you can stack a couple of square hay bales right up against your hives to protect them from the prevailing winds.

As for feeding: the most effective method in my experience is to use an inverted bucket with a screened 2-3-inch hole.

As for insulation: the black corrugated cardboard box will work fine anywhere in Canada. Remember that it is the space between the box and the outer hive wall that provides the R-factor. I have used old carpeting, loosely wrapped around the hive. Some beekeepers place four hives together in a square so that each has only two walls exposed to the winds.

You don't have to begin winterizing your hives until about the second or third week of October.

Good luck.
 

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I put a one inch piece of foam board on the inner cover. There is a 1 inch hole bored in the foam that is over the hole of the inner cover. Then I place some 1 inch sticks on the foam and place the outer cover on top. This gives you a one inch "attic" area. The moisture escapes through the attic, but the wind can't blow in.

Make sure you put a good sized rock on top to keep the wind from blowing the foam and covers off.

I also wrap the sides with foam insulation that I have for greenhouse purposes. It's a quarter inch thick and is flexible enough to wrap around the corners of the hive. I wrap around twice so there is about a half inch of foam.

You could cut foam board insulation to fit the sides of the hive and wrap tape around to hold it all in place. Make sure you leave enough opening at the entrance. You don't want them trapped in there with no way in or out.

In my area the bees may survive without the insulation, but I think they come through much stronger with it. I don't want them to merely survive.

I don't feel I have to wrap the hives until early November in my area, but I get the entrance reduced in September to keep out the mice.

It all gets unwrapped in late March or early April.

As far as feeding is concerned, you want the top box to be almost completely filled with honey. If you feed them enough, they will plug the box full of burr comb across the top. When they do that, it's as full as they are going to make it.

At this point, you can probably feed for at least another month if you need to. Ideally, you would be able to leave the bees to fill the top box with honey and not have to feed at all, but that isn't always possible.

Oh, before you wrap things up for the year, you probably want to treat for mites or at least check for little monsters. There is a ton of information on this board about mites but no one agrees on practices for best treatment.
 

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I'm located near Warren Manitoba, which is about 20 min west of Winnipeg. Please note that I over wintered bees outside in a single story hive with this method. The method I used actually comes from a beekeeper north of Winnipeg. What you do is basically pack 5 hives into a homemade Styrofoam box with a top and bottom also of Styrofoam. The sides are 2" styrofoam and the bottom and top is 3" styrofoam. This whole apparatus was covered with a tarp for windbreak. Hard to explain; easier if there was some way where you could see it. I lost two hives over winter because of starvation. So this time I'm planning on feeding more than last year. Last year I fed approximately 6 gal of 3 parts sugar to 2 parts water by volume. This year planning on feeding all they can take.
1) Enough Food
2) Windbreak
3) Prevention of Temperature Fluctuation
Also extremely important when wintering outside is the vent hole in the inner cover to allow for the expulsion of perspiration generated by the warm bee cluster. Because the cluster of bees is warmer than the outside air, they generate water which rises to the top of the hive. If this moisture laden air cannot escape, one of two things happen a) the air becomes so "wet" that the freezing cold water actually starts dripping onto the bee cluster = immediate death. Or b) the moisture slowly starts freezing down into the honey stores preventing access to the honey by the bees = starvation.
1) Enough Food – As mentioned above, I fed 6 gal of the 3 to 2 ratio
2) Windbreak – Ensuring that there are no cracks where the wind can blow directly unto the cluster
3) Prevention of temperature fluctuations – There are usually a few warm days during the winter and if the hive gets too warm, the bees will fly, and freeze to death
No additional heat is required to over winter a full hive outside, because the bees will generate their own heat. What the beekeeper has to do is to create a means of preventing the heat from escaping rapidly.
The method briefly outlined above is the one I used and am planning on continuing to use; however, there are other methods that have proven successful, including putting 4 hives unto a pallet and then wrapping them with tar-paper and fiber-glass insulation. Many people aver winter their hives indoors. I am not very familiar with the procedures involved, so I can’t comment. BUT KEEP IN MIND: If you plan to over winter bees outside, there must be a vent-hole on the top of the hive to let the “wet” air escape. Failure to provide this will result in dead colonies.
Hopefully this will help.
J. Hofer
 

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We usually have about a week of nite time temps in the -10 to -20 range so its nowhere near as cold as your are.What Ive wrapped my hives with is the dark colored SARAN WRAP that you can probably buy at the grocery store.Its the same stuff you'd cover food with for the fridge or freezer and it gives a very air tight seal and the dark color helps absorb heat from the sun during the winter.I also place a few pounds of sugar candy on some newpapers on the top bars too.
 

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Lana,I can give ya my way.Have never lost a hive to cold.Can give on private forum.To long here or can mail procedures step by step as I do it,Maybe make a video. Roger Eagles
 

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Laina, Two points not well explained above. If you decide to put a vent hole in your upper box, putit on the same side as your lower entrance to prevent a cross wind blowing right through the hive. That wind would keep the cluster frozen. if they're on the same side the moisture chimneys up and out.

Also, your wind break can bee artificial like a hay bale. My prevailing winds come from the NorthWest. So I would block that direction.

And someone mentioned an entrance reducer to keep out the mice.

Good Luck,

Hawk
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you everyone for your replies! I did buy the Western Beekeeping book that was recomended and I was thinking about using the tar and fiberglass. For a -40c tempature what R factor do need? I think the hay would work well as a windbreak. So my bees will be ok in without wrap till it's been -10c for about a week? Sorry for all the questions I just want to make sure I don't let them freeze, but I don't want them to get to hot if i wrap early. if i remove all the honey supers and leave 2 brood chambers what will they do if there is no honey to fill and cap? Will I keep it warmer for them? or should I leave on a honey super for them to have stuff to do. i hope to hear back soon!

Thanks,
Laina
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the heads up on the hay! Is it ok to remove all my honey supers now? Will the bees start eating their winter supply to early if there is nothing for them to fill/build?
 

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It's more likely when they have less stores on hand that they will raise less brood and use less stores. I don't know what the flow is up there. Have you had a killing frost yet? A hard freeze? If not, I'd leave at least an empty super in case there is still more honey coming in yet.
 

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Thanks. No it has gotten a little cool, but so far no hard freeze or frost. Right now the highs are between 20 and 26 c and the lows are around 6 or 7 c. I doubt they could fill another super up, so I will probably leave it. Just as long as they won't crack into their winter stores if I take them down to the two brood chambers.
 
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