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(Newbee alert - approaching the first winter with my bees and starting to get nervous for them!).

I am reading up on the various things I can do to help my bees get through their first winter (and my first as a beekeeper!). I came across the Langstroth Insulation Box at PerfectBee. Are these useful / worthwhile? The concept seems similar to the "quilt box" that their Warre has and that I think I've seen elsewhere too with Warre's (I use Langstroth hives though). This is the first time I've come across such an idea for a Langstroth.

https://store.perfectbee.com/collections/top-covers

Any thoughts?

Thanks.

Clive
 

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It looks like what most refer to as a quilt box.

When clustered, condensation can kill your bees regardless of outside temps.

As far as insulating a hive, insulation simply helps maintain a warmer ambient temperature around the cluster. Thus reducing the amount of stores a hive may need to survive the winter.

Two different things for a beekeeper to potentially tackle for winter. Condensation must be addressed; insulation most seem to say don't worry to much about it.
 

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Don't waste your money...

Ensure they are dry bees not dead bees. So make sure their is a vent at the top but still won't allow moisture to get in.

If you wanna go a little extra then that, put some hard foam insulation under the top cover. I do this for mine.

Reasoning is that it should minimize the amount of condensation that would develop on the top which in turn may rain down on the bees.
 

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Quilt boxes work very well, but not so much for what their cozy-sounding name implies. They should properly be named moisture management boxes, instead, because that's their major function. They don't keep the bees warm so much as keeping them dry.

They can be easily made up using a shallow super (w/o frames) with a cloth floor and Tractor Supply pine shavings for the filling. You also need to shims or ekes (one above and one below the quilt box itself.) The lower one doubles as your feeding and upper entrance.

I am in northern NY and our winters can be fierce,. I attribute my excellent wintering success in part to the fact that I use a quilt box on every colony.

(I also put great emphasis on reducing mites in the late summer, providing ample winter stores and 3-4" inches of foam insulation around the boxes. The first two are essential for any beekeeper who wants to count on having winter success; the last may not be needed in milder wintering areas, but I am in Z4b.)

I think a deeper box than the one shown in that catalogue would be better because it is essentially an open top to the hive, and the thicker the shavings, the more protection for the bees from penetrating cold. A shallow-depth super works just fine, and is likely half the price. Making stuff for your bees is a pleasure all by itself.

Enj.
 

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Moisture quilt. You can make a box by :
Use a super.
drill four 1" (I'm now using 1-1/4") holes on the sides (2-each side - only on the sides)with a fair down angle (at least 15 degree) so rain drips out not in. note - drill the holes centered about 1-1/2" down from the top. The windows should be at least half way above the wood chips in the end and if you put a outer cover (+ inner cover?) it should at most only partially cover the holes.
add a 3/4x3/4 bar across the middle bottom to help support support.
staple 1/8 hardware cloth across the bottom to prevent bees getting into it and help hold the wood chips. also staple hardware cloth over the windows on the inside.
I have pictures of the ones I have used the last few years if anyone is interested.
add 3/8" strip of wood on the bottom of the super, all around (helps correct bee space). if you put a pollen patty below this, make this a bit larger.
drape and staple landscape fabric on the inside to hold the ceder chips.
fill with at least 4" ceder chips. move the chips away from the windows.
The chips also act as insulation but allow moisture (frost) to collect on the top than sublime out of the hive. The bees stay dry.
 

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(Newbee alert - approaching the first winter with my bees and starting to get nervous for them!).

I am reading up on the various things I can do to help my bees get through their first winter (and my first as a beekeeper!). I came across the Langstroth Insulation Box at PerfectBee. Are these useful / worthwhile? The concept seems similar to the "quilt box" that their Warre has and that I think I've seen elsewhere too with Warre's (I use Langstroth hives though). This is the first time I've come across such an idea for a Langstroth.

https://store.perfectbee.com/collections/top-covers

Any thoughts?

Thanks.

Clive

Seems awful expensive for what is basically a quilt box. I'm a first year as well and I made myself 4 of them by taking 2 deeps and sawing them in half with my table saw. I then stapled some #8 hardware cloth to the bottom and drilled a vent hole in the top of them and used #8 to cover the hole. I plan on sticking burlap in the bottom and filling it with shavings to absorb any moisture this winter.
 

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Moisture quilt.
The chips also act as insulation but allow moisture (frost) to collect on the top than sublime out of the hive. The bees stay dry.
Right on the money, especially describing the process of how the moisture is actually removed from the hive.
 

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I have 20+ hives in zone 5. This seems like a lot of work/expense.
Won't a piece of 1" foam insulation on the top and tipping the hive to the front to allow condensation to exit through the entrance be enough? Upper entrance already exists.
 

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I have 20+ hives in zone 5. This seems like a lot of work/expense.
Won't a piece of 1" foam insulation on the top and tipping the hive to the front to allow condensation to exit through the entrance be enough? Upper entrance already exists.
Yep, it is.

Refer to Michael palmer. He lives in a pretty brutal winter climate and does pretty much what i said i do except he also wraps them in black roofing felt. I don't wrap mine but I'm not worried about mine add much considering i don't live in a more extreme climate than him. Wrapping them in this way though, only helps with a solar gain in warm winter days anyways.

By just adding a vent at the top and some foam, and good management practices, he winters several hives and rarely has losses.

Matter of fact, many people on this thread would do good to watch his video on beekeeping in Frozen North America on YouTube. You'll be years ahead of yourself with the knowledge he imparts in his videos.
 

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Is there a difference if there is snow vs. no snow (but hard frost)? I mean, all that fine snow is a lot of insulation, isn't it? In Germany we don't have snow but sometimes harsh frost, especially in the North. The styrofoam hive is well established there. For a reason.
 

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My first year, on a frosty January day I opened my hive up. A light coating of frost on the center top of the ceder chips. I dug down and found the chips perfectly dry under. That day was one of those winter weeks where snow slowly sublimes away due to it being cold and dry. Later I looked up the R-Value of wood chips and decided I was happy with a 4" layer. I do wrap the hives in roofing tar and tuck the tar paper inside the outer cover (and cut the holes around the windows).
 

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Yep, it is.

Refer to Michael palmer. He lives in a pretty brutal winter climate and does pretty much what i said i do except he also wraps them in black roofing felt. I don't wrap mine but I'm not worried about mine add much considering i don't live in a more extreme climate than him. Wrapping them in this way though, only helps with a solar gain in warm winter days anyways.

By just adding a vent at the top and some foam, and good management practices, he winters several hives and rarely has losses.

Matter of fact, many people on this thread would do good to watch his video on beekeeping in Frozen North America on YouTube. You'll be years ahead of yourself with the knowledge he imparts in his videos.
I do believe in his video he quotes a percent of losses. I don't remember what it is but out of 1000 hives a loss of 1percent is more then most people have.
Mike is 3 hours north of me and usually a drastically different winter. I do believe snow needs to be accounted for. its actually a great insulator. so if I get no snow and just freezing temps with wind I need to account for the difference. OP is in seattle where I know it rains a lot but not sure of actual below freezing temps. If he has a lot of moisture then a quilt box is a good idea. The one quoted for 32 bucks is ridiculous though. anyone can nail some boards together and staple in some material. this is a great homemade project.
to another comment tilting a hive will not gaurentee the water to run to the front. the surface tension and freezing of water droplets would mean x amount would drop on the frames. if too many drops running for the front combine it will drop not run.
 

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Winter prep starts in June, with colony strength manipulations, and a batch of fresh queens in nuclei colonies, robbing screens before the dearth, and mite measures in mid-August. Bring a 2-box colony up to 130lbs before Winter, or feed it.

Lots of Northern beekeepers like quilt boxes and / or 2" thick polystyrene bead foam. I'd probably make up fondant boards with 2" styrofoam blocks, and place them over the quilt boxes.

A wind barrier also helps keep them warm and dry, so stack some straw bales windward of the hives. A simple roof keeps the snow and rain off. Good drainage is planned ahead of time.

Many have roof paper wrapped over the pallets, with a tube for upper hive ventilation running down to the bottom and out under the paper.

Upper hive ventilation is critical. Wet bees die in minutes.
 
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