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We are surrounded by the sea, so our Winters are mild, and our Summers almost never get over 30C (86F). My apiary is in a Pine grove, which protects them from our fierce winds, but most times, they are in dappled Sunlight. To that end, I shop for dark mis-tint paint, because I feel the interior warms up a bit faster in the morning and allows the foragers to get going a bit earlier.
Winter here isn't a big deal, but the one Winter I decided to forego wrapping them, I lost everything. Now, they get a wrap of building paper, which I pre-cut and assemble into a sleeve ahead of time, with top and bottom openings cut out. On wrapping day, I can slide the sleeves over the hives and be done in no time. I can also remove and reuse them.
TIMING: I don't like to wrap them too early, because they don't cut down as fast, and use more stores they will need later. I wait until the night temperature falls below freezing most nights, usually around the beginning of December.
The screened bottom board gets a piece of 1 inch white styrofoam, and the opening is sealed with gaffer tape. A similar piece goes on top of the inner cover, and the whole thing gets strapped together with a ratchet strap, and a heavy rock placed on top. I have had them blow over, but if they stay together, there is a good chance they will survive.
The big thing is knocking down the Varroa mites and making sure they have enough stores to make it from November through April. I like them to be 100 to 120 lb, and feed individually with bucket feeders if they need building up. I also feel they do better if they have their own honey, so the last honey is taken off at the end of August, and they have our long Fall to build up for Winter. Once they are wrapped up, I don't touch them until Spring.
In Canada, we normally feed in the Fall, not the Spring. If I feel they are too light come the first nice day in April, I will feed Pollen sub patties made up with Ultra Bee, and keep feeding until I see pollen coming in.
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