It depends on where you live and the climate. I would say where you live, close them up in the next two weeks or so, depending on what your method is for closing them up. Here, we do not need to wrap them like some folks. I brush off the landing board, put a little cinnamon around the inner cover, close the entrance a little, feed them if needed, and leave them alone. Take not on whitch ones you feed so you can monitor them.
Where in MN are you? I try to wrap mine in late Oct/early Nov. Either before or after Deer season. We will still get some really warm days in Oct. so you don't want to wrap them too early. I can't find my U of M book right now, but when it turns up I'll double check and see when they recommend.
The only early thing I worry about is putting mouse guards on before the mice find the nice warm box of bees to live in. Putting them on AFTER they move in doesn't work so well. Getting the excluders off before the bees decide to cluster somewhere that the queen isn't is probably second. After that you can wait for some cold nights to get too carried away. There may yet be a fall flow.
After a hard freeze I'd pull the empty boxes off for the winter.
Hehe.. yesterday afternoon I tried out my new and improved entrance reducer with 1/4" mesh over the hole (3/4" x 3/8") on one of my hives.. looked at it today and the entrance was all but plugged with 2 drones stuck in the screen trying to get OUT
I didn't think there were any drones left in there... I took the screen off for the time being.
Around here the recommendation is to wrap (if you wrap) the hives in early November and to close down the entrances about now.
The hives can handle a frost just fine with no special protection.
I'm only a dozen or so miles out of Minneapolis to the southeast. I don't do much winterizing until the end of Oct or so. Put reducers on now to keep out the mice and reduce the need for the bees to maintain a defensive posture. Our dew points are pretty low this time of year, so moisture isn't usually a huge problem.
I wrap with two layers of quarter inch foam in the winter. It's some stuff I get from a greenhouse supplier. It's expensive and when it's all gone, I don't think I'm going to buy any more. I think less wrapping would work just fine. Often people use a couple layers of roofing felt. It's cheap and easy to get.
On the top of the inner cover I put a piece of one inch foam with a one inch hole drilled in it so that it lines up with the hole in the inner cover. Then I put a couple three quarter inch sticks and then the outer cover. The sticks keep the outer cover raised enough so you get ventilation and a second entrance, but the wind can't blow in.
That's about it. Make sure if the hives are light that you feed them until they won't take anymore or until the top of the hive is pretty well burred shut when you look in.
ChellesBees is a quite a bit further north. Maye she can give some more information on how she wraps. Whatever she does should be fine for your location.
Not so much farther north-Wyoming is actually almost north metro. Just far enough out that we don't retain any of the residual heat the metro does. If you go -10, It will be -15 or -20 here. U of M recommends wrapping with roofing felt (tar paper) and using a Builtrite square over the inner cover. I have been going one step farther, and putting some insulation between the felt and the hive. I have used the 1" styrofoam board, but it is messy and hard to work with, so now I use something I picked up at Menards-basically it is foil covered bubble wrap. Then I put the tar paper over that. Entrance reducer on the bottom, and front hole in the top box open. The biggest trick is to make sure the hole in front stays lined up, so you don't lose too many bees down the front.
I need to make some mouse gaurds for my hives. Is 1/4" mesh all I need? or do I need to figure something else out. I saw somewhere on here a while back that someone was using corner bead for drywall. I was just not sure if the hole sizes were correct.
I am planning to use the foil bubble wrap too, but with the radiant surface toward the inside. Then I'm simply going to wrap the hives in a single layer of breathable black landscape fabric. I may actually attach the two sheets to simplify matters. My inner cover has 1/8" spacers on top and bottom edges, so I think ventilation won't be a problem. I'll also leave the upper entrance open in the top super.
Should I partially close off the SBB or leave it open???
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