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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It got to 38 degrees today and this hive had bee's flying and walking around. This hive is 2 nucs stacked next to each other with a colony on the other side. This hive has no insulation on the sides. On the top, I have a homasote board directly above the bee's, reflectix (not that it does anything but because I use it as an inner cover in the summer and just left it with the hive), and two 1 1/2 inch foam boards. No upper venting, just a bottom entrance.
I have other hives in the same spot that are fully insulated with no activity. Granted, they could all be dead, but I'm hoping the uninsulated hive gets warmed up from the sun whereas the insulated hives can't feel it.
This is in zone 4B and recent temps have been as low as -20.
This is my 3rd winter as a bee keeper. 1st winter was a total loss, 2nd was 50% loss. Not bragging, just excited to see some life after some bitter cold days. There's still a lot to come so I'm not counting my chickens before they hatch. Exciting for me none the less.

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Any signs of life are always great to see. I suspect you are correct in that the insulated hives are not sensing the warmth from the sun like the uninsulated hive is. One year I put roofing felt around my hives and on a sunny day the bees would fly out even in frigid air temps. The problem was that I noticed the bees getting too cold upon leaving the hive and the ground surrounding the hives was littered with bees that had crash landed and died in the snow. That year I put foam insulation over the felt and have used the foam ever since. I think it's better to smooth out the big temp fluctuations with the foam. They do get out a lot less though.
 

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Kind of like how I winter, with no side insulation and heavy on top, no top entrances. It seems to work in N Illinois. Temps down to -20F didn't kill them last winter. We only get the very occasional day that cold, but zero and below is common in Jan/Feb. So far this year the coldest has been -3F (-19 C) and the stethoscope tells me they are all alive so far.

Today is supposed to get up to high 30s, but overcast so I doubt they will be outside. I put a shield over the entrances to block drifting snow, but the side effect is that the bees can't see sunlight which might slow them down from coming out.
 

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6a 5th yr 9 colonies inc. 2 resource hives
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Over wintering especially in your area is a fine tuning affair. Gotta say I'm not a fan of homasote. It gets slimy in my area. I much prefer insulation like R-10 cut to size from Home Depot. I saw one experienced guy on YouTube use clear stretch wrap with a handle (not sticky) to bind the insulation to his hives. It was super clever. Love your enthusiasm and obvious energy to find your best winter config.
 

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Over wintering especially in your area is a fine tuning affair. Gotta say I'm not a fan of homasote. It gets slimy in my area. I much prefer insulation like R-10 cut to size from Home Depot. I saw one experienced guy on YouTube use clear stretch wrap with a handle (not sticky) to bind the insulation to his hives. It was super clever. Love your enthusiasm and obvious energy to find your best winter config.
I use pink fiberglass batting, paper side down, cut into squares that just fit inside a deep. Fill the deep with that and put it on top the hive. Very simple to inspect in winter. Pull off the telescoping top, pull off the first layer and set it aside then gently roll back the lower layer. The hard sugar cakes go directly under the batting and the bees snuggle right up under it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Over wintering especially in your area is a fine tuning affair. Gotta say I'm not a fan of homasote. It gets slimy in my area. I much prefer insulation like R-10 cut to size from Home Depot. I saw one experienced guy on YouTube use clear stretch wrap with a handle (not sticky) to bind the insulation to his hives. It was super clever. Love your enthusiasm and obvious energy to find your best winter config.
This is the first time I've used homasote. I read some others having success so I bought a sheet and put it on 5 or 6 hives. When it warms up again I'll see how it looks.
I'm tossing everything at them this year. I have some hives sealed pretty tight and fully insulated with a small bottom entrance, some with a quilt box and wood shavings, some with the homasote, some with just foam board on the top and wide bottom entrance.
Last season I used quilt boxes and had some success. I only had enough spare equipment for 3 quilt boxes so the rest are getting experimented with.
 

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Mine came out today. 45 with no wind.
Their Second winter in an insulated hive. So far, so good.

One thing I noticed, they don't like wind. Windchill plus temps below 40 quickly sucks them away from the safety of the hive.
 
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