I think you are rushing the season.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?
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.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.
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?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.
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?Do the bees naturally stop rearing brood in the fall if they are insulated?