I'm not far from you.
>1. Don't try to bring small colonies through Winter, combine them in Fall. Sure you want more hives, but a dead-out in January doesn't do you any good.
True, but in recent years I've been pushing this to have nucs in the spring. Some don't make it but the ones that do really take off.
>2. Wrap your hives in black tar paper. I didn't, and I think some I lost could have made it if I had. What I didn't understand is it is not so much for at night, but during a sunny day it allows enough warm up so the bees can break cluster and move to stores. I had two hives that died inches away from capped stores.
I've tried wrapping and not wrapping (some experiments with wrapping but mostly decades of not wrapping). I came to the opposite conclusion. The wrapping seemed to just keep everything soaking wet all winter. Here's some other people's take on that also:
"Although we now and again have to put up with exceptionally severe winters even here in the south-west, we do not provide our colonies with any additional protection. We know that cold, even severe cold, does not harm colonies that are in good health. Indeed, cold seems to have a decided beneficial effect on bees."--Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey, Brother Adam
"Nothing has been said of providing warmth to the colonies, by wrapping or packing hives or otherwise, and rightly so. If not properly done, wrapping or packing can be disastrous, creating what amounts to a damp tomb for the colony" --The How-To-Do-It book of Beekeeping, Richard Taylor
>3. Lots of disagreement on this, but too much moisture IS a killer. My hives were too damp, even with the hives tipped forward.
And they will be more moist if you wrap... Do you have a top entrance? Letting the moisture out makes a huge difference.http://www.bushfarms.com/beeslazy.htm#topentrance
> My two remaining hives were in dire straights (dead moist bees packed between frames), I added just a popsicle stick to frame edge on top of hive and things dried right up and bees are MUCH happier. One hive I lost had a cluster of dead bees covered in ice. Yet I had this hive tipped forward. I suspect that here in Iowa our Winters alternate between very cold (down to minus 20) and very damp - lots of snow and sleet, thus tipping alone isn't enough.
No, it's not. At least not in our climate.