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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm basically on the line between USDA Zones 6a and 6b, and for the first time in years actually had a real winter with a couple of foot or more storms. As a new bee, I followed the discussion on insulating hives which may or may not applied to my local area but given the storms, perhaps it was one of those "even a blind squirrel gets a nut now and then..." as the weather was unusually clod. I have double deeps with a small super as a quit box which worked out well (dimensionally) buy 1" pink foam sheets at HD, cutting them in half length wise and then making 4 sides and a top for inside the quilt box above the shavings with almost no waste. This configuration covered from the bottom board to right under the telescoping lid with a couple of cutouts for the quilt boxes vents. (Ok got that out in under a hundred words).

My question is when is it time to strip the insulation panels? I have some concern that even with the colder weather, the insulation helped the bees maintain an internal temp higher than necessary and allowed for continuous brood rearing. On any day that was above 35-40 F, the girls would come out and fly around on cleansing flights in fairly large groups. In many cases, they'd come out, hit the cold air and crash into the snow dead. On the other hand, my last inspection a few weeks ago showed very strong populations. I supplemented with winter patty and the hives were (and still are) heavy. Earlier this week, we were in the mid 40's and they were out so I put out around a tablespoon of dry pollen feed and they hit it pretty well. Weather forecast for the next 10 days looks like highs in the low 40's and freezing/just under for lows. I'd like to strip the insulation and start dry pollen feeding, in a few weeks we'll start seeing 50's as daytime highs and then start up with my syrup top feeders. Any recommendations?
 

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All I can say is that last spring I pulled off the insulated tops too early and the weather turned cold again. The weaker hives suffered.
 

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I used to think I had better get my insulated wraps off when eighties were in the forecast. After having some wraps still on into the mid nineties with no ill affect, I now remove the wrap permanently for my convenience not for the bees welfare. BTU's make bees. I remove and replace my wraps several times before finally putting them in storage anyway.
 

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The wraps come off when they annoy me. The tops usually stay on longer, but no defined time for them coming off.
 

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For bees to work wax and build comb then need to keep the area 90F. or better; close to brood rearing temperature. Hard to get comb drawn out completely to the edges of frames and new wired wax foundation will get chewed out. Foragers are later getting going if they are needed to cover brood.

Where nights are still getting down in the 40's F. I think convenience is the only benefit to removing insulation early. Gang wrapping colonies together encourages gettting insulation off early so you can spread them out to work them. I am caught up in this situation and each year swear to go to something easily on and off so I can take advantage of the benefits.
62160
Snow Building Wood Window Brickwork
 

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I'm basically on the line between USDA Zones 6a and 6b, and for the first time in years actually had a real winter with a couple of foot or more storms. As a new bee, I followed the discussion on insulating hives which may or may not applied to my local area but given the storms, perhaps it was one of those "even a blind squirrel gets a nut now and then..." as the weather was unusually clod. I have double deeps with a small super as a quit box which worked out well (dimensionally) buy 1" pink foam sheets at HD, cutting them in half length wise and then making 4 sides and a top for inside the quilt box above the shavings with almost no waste. This configuration covered from the bottom board to right under the telescoping lid with a couple of cutouts for the quilt boxes vents. (Ok got that out in under a hundred words).

My question is when is it time to strip the insulation panels? I have some concern that even with the colder weather, the insulation helped the bees maintain an internal temp higher than necessary and allowed for continuous brood rearing. On any day that was above 35-40 F, the girls would come out and fly around on cleansing flights in fairly large groups. In many cases, they'd come out, hit the cold air and crash into the snow dead. On the other hand, my last inspection a few weeks ago showed very strong populations. I supplemented with winter patty and the hives were (and still are) heavy. Earlier this week, we were in the mid 40's and they were out so I put out around a tablespoon of dry pollen feed and they hit it pretty well. Weather forecast for the next 10 days looks like highs in the low 40's and freezing/just under for lows. I'd like to strip the insulation and start dry pollen feeding, in a few weeks we'll start seeing 50's as daytime highs and then start up with my syrup top feeders. Any recommendations?
I think you are rushing the season.

Why do you want to take these actions?

IMO there needs to be a reason for feeding supplemental pollen so early, like lack of pollen stores from last fall, and a reason for trying to feed syrup so early, like they are light and running out of feed. Neither situation seems to exist from your description of their current weights and previous posts of last falls conditions.

I've never used insulation except on the crown board, so I offer no help there except to say it's hasn't been necessary to insulate or wrap hives during our mid Atlantic/ southern NE winters.
 

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I think I may have posted this picture before and am questioning if should have insulated at all. Typically we have fairly mild winters here and on any days that are near or around 40 F, my bees are flying-sometime right into the snow and certain death. They have been active and my persistent question is what's next-did the insulation allow them the protection to keep brood all winter? Am I going to get a big wave of brood prior to a sustainable flow (I have plenty of top feeders) I guess I'm wonder should I have skipped the insulation and let them cluster tighter rather than have the activity? . My hives are all year old double deeps and I'm figuring (hopefully) to split all 5 as soon as the drones are flying-typically mid/late April here but the activity and populations makes me wonder if I'm going to get onto a swarm condition earlier than desired. All of the hive have 20 frames fully built out with comb, when/if the queen gets serious early on, where will they go? (fit) I've got a somewhere around 80 medium frames of extracted comb and another 60 or so (I use 10 frame boxes) of partially built out mediums that some of which I was planning on using for the early tree flow. I've got a bunch of woodenware on order for an early March pickup. And yes, I know the fat lady (winter) Snow Beehive Purple Wood Gas hasn't sung yet, I could still end up with empty boxes.
 

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Keeping insulation on longer will really help them in the build up until you have consistently warm nights. One could keep insulation on all summer long and it would help them to mitigate the heat and temp swings. So it really does boil down to how long you can tolerate it. Mine comes off when I do my first complete inspection and (usually) reversal of boxes In April, but they would greatly benefit if I put the insulation back on. It is just not worth my time and trouble. If they looked weak, I would do it because I am told that it can make a remarkable difference in spring build up with our Northern temps. J
 

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I speculate that Carnis or other bees that winter a smallish cluster might benefit more than Italians. Takes longer to get up to the critical mass where they "explode"

Probably if your main management issue is swarming, keeping insulation on, or even having much insulation, this is not a concern.
 

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I speculate that Carnis or other bees that winter a smallish cluster might benefit more than Italians. Takes longer to get up to the critical mass where they "explode"

Probably if your main management issue is swarming, keeping insulation on, or even having much insulation, this is not a concern.
Thanks for reminding me another reason I do not keep my insulation on till they explode. I have enough trouble keeping up with their normal pace before they go into swarm mode.
 

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I think I may have posted this picture before and am questioning if should have insulated at all. Typically we have fairly mild winters here and on any days that are near or around 40 F, my bees are flying-sometime right into the snow and certain death. They have been active and my persistent question is what's next-did the insulation allow them the protection to keep brood all winter? Am I going to get a big wave of brood prior to a sustainable flow (I have plenty of top feeders) I guess I'm wonder should I have skipped the insulation and let them cluster tighter rather than have the activity? . My hives are all year old double deeps and I'm figuring (hopefully) to split all 5 as soon as the drones are flying-typically mid/late April here but the activity and populations makes me wonder if I'm going to get onto a swarm condition earlier than desired. All of the hive have 20 frames fully built out with comb, when/if the queen gets serious early on, where will they go? (fit) I've got a somewhere around 80 medium frames of extracted comb and another 60 or so (I use 10 frame boxes) of partially built out mediums that some of which I was planning on using for the early tree flow. I've got a bunch of woodenware on order for an early March pickup. And yes, I know the fat lady (winter) View attachment 62166 hasn't sung yet, I could still end up with empty boxes.
Well thought out. My answer was Because my bees are going to store a super of fruit and dandelion honey because the population is built up to do it. What you didnt elaborate on was How do I keep them in the box?
 

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I was unable to conclude. Possibly a heiroglyph below unknown to me enables that. My answer is to pull a small split with the queen mother and move that split to the top. Immediately over the queenless colony I put an excluder. Then a couple supers because bees not raising brood can store a lot of honey! I put another excluder then to keep the queen in the split on top from moving down and laying in supers. Additionally the supers provide the space needed, so the colony below will know they are indeed queenless and produce an emergency queen. This differs from a snelgrove board in that I want out of work nurse bees to move up to the brood in the attic. Often I have to put another excluder on top to keep the booming single from laying in a super above.

This is not the easy way to prevent swarms, but it stops them. In a month I set the old queen and her single on another bottom board and have another producing colony usually with a super of honey. Now I pull the two supers off the colony below to look at my new queen. If they failed to requeen you will usually find two deeps of honey. Then I have to restack to get my queen back on her origional bottomboard and a whole bunch ofhoney stacked on top. If an emergency queen was produced, I have two colonies and a whole bunch of honey.
 

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February a month to ADD more insulation if unsure (NOT be removing it).
Keep in mind, they now are trying to start brooding and under the most stress to maintain the cluster temps (while holding the poop still).
February/March/April (in the North) when you want the insulation ON (not OFF).
 

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I have evolved over three years to remaining fully insulated all year; R10+ sides and R20+ top. This was the first year of fully insulated hives with temperature and relative humidity (RH)monitoring. The bees, given a chance, maintain internal top temperatures and RH really well - just about the ideal temperature for making honey in summer. They also capped it really well during a summer and going into Fall which has been wet - constant rain, fog, overcast and drizzle along the seacoast of RI. I do not plan on removing insulation but improving the installation and access - and carpenter ant resistance.
 

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I am planning on making changes to improve access and this will encourage me to leave insulation on much longer. Comb building pattern makes me believe hive temperature is a limiting factor in my climate.

Good to see you back Robert!
 

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I have been using all polystyrene hives-Anel, Apimaye & Technosetbee- for the last 3 years & will never go back to wood. I was astounded at how much honey they DIDN'T eat during the first winter-only 30 lbs in SE Michigan. That convinced me to switch to all insulated, all of the time.
 

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Do the bees naturally stop rearing brood in the fall if they are insulated?
 

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Do the bees naturally stop rearing brood in the fall if they are insulated?
There are quite a few here that have either permanently insulated hives or leave insulation year around on common wooden ones. Does not seem to be a problem. Carni and related type bees will cut back brood rearing if no forage (especially pollen) is coming in the front door. Italians will raise brood as long as there is food in the cupboard and they can maintain brood rearing temperature. That is a bit biased; did I mention I am not a fan of those bees?;)
 
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