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Thanks for posting this. With the severe weather most of us have had, many beeks will be reassured by this study, (unless they don't use windbreaks and packing).

And then, of course, we can argue about sufficient stores and adequate ventilation.
 

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Leaves or loose packed straw would work well as long as they were kept dry. Don't know how you would contain them around the hive and keep them from being crushed down from ice and snow.
 

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Don't know how you would contain them around the hive and keep them from being crushed down from ice and snow.


In the 40's my grandfather made plaster lathe and tar paper winter caves. They surrounded 2 hives of single deeps. Loose straw was packed around and over the hives. They worked well, but did attract alot of mice, possums and black and white putty cats(Pepe LaPew).

Crazy Roland
 

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In the link it was mentioned that the "packed" hives were insulated by using dried leaves contained in a packing crate. There are leaves below, above and around the hive. Presumably they were protected by the lid of the packing case.

Amusingly, they take note of people arguing agianst known data about winter bee survival, and also arguing based on their own experience of their own winters, and bees' response to same, and refusing to accept any other information. The paper was published in 1920, but 93 years later , it's same old, same old.

The purpose of the paper was to settle whether bees do better in singles or doubles (doubles); whether windbreaks matter (yes); whether insulation improves colony size and honey yield the following spring (yes) and which colony needs the most food (the larger, insulated, wind-protected ones do, because they retain the most live bees during the winter and raise the most brood prior to the start of the main honey-flow, therefore they have more mouths to feed.)

They also noted that all the colonies did better in the harsher winter rather than the milder one during the study. That should give anyone who has suffered through this merciless cold, some comfort.

Enj.
 

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Keeping in mind this study is 100 year old. I would not jump in and subscribe to their methods based on this information.

A lot has changed:
The farms in kansas at this time were still horse farming. There was likely plenty of native prairie left at this time for bees to forage on, that is largely extinct today.

They couldn't cut and chop 1000 acres of hay in a few hrs like they do now.

Bees certainly have changed in 100 years. They are bred to build up fast and shut down when things dry up. They consume far more stores in the winter then they ever have... You look at the original bee books (not the re-issued edited versions) and going into winter with 100 lbs of honey on was unheard of.

Here in the North East the first major honey flow isn't until late May. In March the bees will start to bring in skunk cabbage, and then willow will trickle in and red maples. I don't want my hives to build up on that stuff because it is too early and the more bees are in the hive the more resources are used to feed them. If they are wrapped and go crazy with brood in March, I am going to have to feed them before a good flow hits... they also are at risk if old man winter steps back in for a late April rendezous and they have a deep full of brood to cover.

Plus they didn't have mites to contend with. Brooding up early will lead to higher mite loads earlier in the season.

In the old days you could count on clover and alfalfa to bloom. Farmers didn't always get it cut when it budded and we could do a rain dance and hope cutting got delayed. Now days there is very little alfalfa left and the new age educated farmers know that the bigest bang for their buck is if they mow when the hay buds and it's protein level diminishes after a bloom.

If I were over wintering nucs for sale I would wrap and feed to make them look as good as they can come spring, but for a production hive I want them to ease into things.
 

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Even today, I believe the bee informed survey on winter losses noted that the one of the only significant variables to improve winter losses was wrapping.
 

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>You look at the original bee books (not the re-issued edited versions) and going into winter with 100 lbs of honey on was unheard of.

Doolittle was wintering on 25 pounds of honey in New York in cellars... and they had a lot left over in the spring to build up...
 

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>You look at the original bee books (not the re-issued edited versions) and going into winter with 100 lbs of honey on was unheard of.

Doolittle was wintering on 25 pounds of honey in New York in cellars... and they had a lot left over in the spring to build up...
If you read Bro Adams books he notes multiple times that his bees could winter on as little as 6 lbs of honey I believe. It was one of the things he selected for was conservative on stores in the winter.
 

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A friend of mine was freaking out due to the small amount of stores in his hives going into last winter. In the spring he was convinced they don't eat in the winter!
 

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I would not count on that not eating thing to much. They do not eat much if they remain cold enough. let them warm up and they will plow through the food.
 

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Even today, I believe the bee informed survey on winter losses noted that the one of the only significant variables to improve winter losses was wrapping.
Last winter, the local association did some surveys with local beekeepers and winter survival was correlated with provisions. All colonies might not need 100lb, but if you factor in that some of the colonies may not be (at all) very frugal, they do weigh in on the average and as such giving bees more in terms of winter stores should yield you more live bees in spring. After all, a lot of factors can affect winter consumption.
 
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