« Last post by DMLinton on Today at 12:41:37 PM »
I am with you, Bush_84. I am still a first year beek but I am convinced that honey bees need better Winter protection than we typically give them. I read a piece recently where the writer pointed out that 40 lbs of honey was considered necessary for over-wintering back when bees where wintered in cellars but 100 lbs is now the typical recommendation. Bees also freeze in seconds at 32 F, which means that when the point at which the outer shell bees chill too quickly to take their place and then rotate back into the cluster to warm themselves, bees start dieing much more quickly.
I think we need to contemplate just why it is a that the current recommendation for northern regions (northern USA and Canada) is that one must have two deeps boiling with bees and 100 lbs of honey going into Winter to expect survival. As a first year beekeeper, I got that advice ad nauseum.
I was also advised that indoor Wintering was a bad idea (I am located halfway along a line drawn from Toronto to Ottawa). Partly for health reasons and partly because of the cautions against indoor wintering, I put only about half of my hives in an unheated, south facing, second floor back room. Light is not blocked. If the bees take a notion to fly on a day that it is above freezing outdoors, I take the window out. More importantly, even though outdoor temperatures have dropped below -18 F, the bee room never drops below 14 F. At this moment it is 5 F outdoors and 22 F in the bee room. Starting next Fall, all of my bees will go into an insulated and climate controlled shelter. There will be heater set to a mininum of about 25 - 28 F because my bees will fly out AND return at just above 32 F (contrary to a lot of advice I received) and a humidistat controlled exhaust fan.
i will be able to at least take a quick peek into my hives even if it is thirty below with 30 mph winds outdoors simply by turning the thermostat up to about 31-32F. I will be able to add fondant where necessary at any time. I will have the option of starting Spring build up regardless of what the climate does (2014 local nucs and queens became available six weeks late if at all). I have hefty hives taking fondant down to ambient temperatures of about 27-28 F. A few guards will come out to see who is scratching the hive at temperatures above 30F.
IIRC, it has been reported that a good Winter cluster of bees produces energy approximately eqivalent to a 7 W night light. Try putting such a light and a thermometer in a winterized hive with normal stores but no bees and see what the thermometer has to say. Use one of those digital jobs with remote display.
I do not believe that we can winter our bees in a snowbank and then report with clear conscience that our bees starved and that ample stores remained.