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Author Topic: Wintering Hives on the Ground  (Read 3185 times)
Dimmsdale
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« on: August 22, 2011, 12:16:49 PM »

I currently have my 2 hives sitting on concrete pavers, which brings them up from the ground about 2 inches.  I plan on wintering with solid bottom boards, 2 deeps, upper entrance and reduced 1" lower entrance.  Do most of you elevate your hives or have them at ground level?  My concern is that 2' - 3' snows are not out of the question in my area.  I'm concerned the hives could become covered with snow.  What happens then?? Should I dig them out?  Thanks for any in-site!
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Finski
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« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2011, 01:07:00 PM »

You think that 3 inch snow cover your hives?  You need a solution

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BlueBee
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« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2011, 01:13:52 PM »

All my hives are sitting on concrete pavers on the ground too.  Im using a top entrance on about half so that gets the entrance above the snow line here.  

You could convert to a top entrance for wintering as one option for dealing with snow.  I would be reluctant to dig the hives out of the snow because the snow does provide some insulation value and it is also a wind block.  Shoveling snow is also hard on the bee keeper!

I think it is important to have a smallish top vent in a hive to vent excess moisture/water vapor.  If you go with a top entrance you get the bees above the snow line and you provide winter ventilation at the same time.  

I believe there are beeks in Canada that plow snow over their hives all winter long (as Finski is alluding to above).  It traps the bees in the hives, but if it is too cold outside for cleansing flights anyways, then there is no need to have an entrance above the snow line.
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sterling
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« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2011, 01:36:26 PM »

All my hives are sitting on concrete pavers on the ground too.  Im using a top entrance on about half so that gets the entrance above the snow line here.  

You could convert to a top entrance for wintering as one option for dealing with snow.  I would be reluctant to dig the hives out of the snow because the snow does provide some insulation value and it is also a wind block.  Shoveling snow is also hard on the bee keeper!

I think it is important to have a smallish top vent in a hive to vent excess moisture/water vapor.  If you go with a top entrance you get the bees above the snow line and you provide winter ventilation at the same time.  

I believe there are beeks in Canada that plow snow over their hives all winter long (as Finski is alluding to above).  It traps the bees in the hives, but if it is too cold outside for cleansing flights anyways, then there is no need to have an entrance above the snow line.


What is the best way to convert to top entrance. That may sound like a silly question but I put migratory tops with 1/2in gaps at the front on a few hives and the bees don't use them for coming and going, they just gather around and fan they still use the bottom entrance for coming and going. Can I just open the top and close off bottom entrance. The reason I'm asking is because I have a skunk problem and the tack stripes are not working.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2011, 01:57:33 PM »

Skunk problems?  You and me both!  They are a real pain.  The skunks dont bother my top entrance hives, just the bottom entrance ones. 

Michael Bush is the top entrance guru, so hopefully hell have some better advice for a conversion.  What I've done in the past was to make a 3/8 to gap above the top hive body and completely block off the bottom entrance.  If the bottom entrance is still there in any form, most bees will still try to use it. 

When you do block off the bottom entrance, there will be massive confusion for a couple of hours until all the bees find the new top entrance.  I would do the conversion before it gets cold and do it about noon so the bees have time to figure it out before it gets dark or cold outside.
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Finski
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« Reply #5 on: August 22, 2011, 02:31:58 PM »

All my hives are sitting on concrete pavers on the ground too.  Im using a top entrance on about half so that gets the entrance above the snow line here.  

We have here a recommendation that the hive is 30-40 cm above the ground.
Reason is the moisture on the ground. In winter period ground is wet and does not dry for 7 months.
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BlueBee
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« Reply #6 on: August 22, 2011, 03:24:36 PM »

I agree Finski, that is good advice in general. 

However in my case, there are 2 (5cm) of FOAM between my hives and the ground.  My hives are low and dry  Smiley  I like them on the ground because it makes them mechanically sound and there is less lifting when adding and removing supers. 
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derekm
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« Reply #7 on: August 22, 2011, 03:48:24 PM »

How do you keep crawling insects away from the hive?
I use a 450mm high metal stand with single tube column. This is coated with grease round the base to deter insects and rodents.
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If they increased energy bill for your home by a factor of 4.5 would you consider that cruel? If so why are you doing that to your bees?
caticind
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« Reply #8 on: August 22, 2011, 05:02:18 PM »

Mine are up on concrete blocks stacked two high plus an open frame stand, so about 18 inches off the ground.  The reason isn't for snow, though, as we almost never get more than an inch or two for a day or two, but so I don't have to bend over as much to work them and so mites falling through the screens cannot climb back up.

Seems like the answer depends on whether you have primarily snow that stays or snow that melts & refreezes.  If it falls and piles up, as with Finski, or Canadian beeks, then it's great insulation and the bees can't exit much anyway due to cold.  If it melts off, then the ground will be very wet after each snow, and you may want to raise them off the ground to avoid excess moisture problems.
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The bees would be no help; they would tumble over each other like golden babies and thrum wordlessly on the subjects of queens and sex and pollen-gluey feet. -Palimpsest
Finski
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« Reply #9 on: August 22, 2011, 10:01:02 PM »

.
I move my hives to outer pastures and then move for winter to cottage yeard.

I prefer wooden stands They are easy to take with in one piece. I tried leca concrete blocks but they were not handy.
Leca means here  a foam like tile balls. It is very light concrete material.
Seems to be English word too.

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BlueBee
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« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2011, 10:42:10 PM »

Derekm, Ill have to confess I dont have the crawling insect problem completely solved yet.  Ive been contemplating putting my hives on 4 (100mm) mini stands and then using some sort of moat to deal with the insects.  I agree with you all that it is WISE to elevate your hives!

Finski, those foam rocks of yours look similar to volcano rocks.  In the US they sell light weight puffed up rocks from volcanos for landscaping use. 
http://www.homeandgardenideas.com/outdoor-living/landscaping/ground-cover/landscaping-red-lava-rock
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Vance G
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2011, 10:43:22 PM »

If your ground is wet and unfrozen, I can see little something underneath to keep the bottom board from being wet.  As far as snow, it is just not an issue.  A lot of air goes thru snow, it's just not that dense.  I used to put my hives where they would hopefully go deep under snow so it would insulate and protect them from the cold and wind.  A fifty five gallon drum size ice cave would form around those snowed under colonies and they wintered extrememly well and were often under that snow for three months or longer.  I doubt if 2-3 inches is going to do yours in.  Top ventilation to let water vapor out is the single most improtant thing you can do to inhance the survivability of a colony with adequate provisions.  
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Michael Bush
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« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2011, 11:49:36 PM »

If you have a top entrance you can just leave them alone.  If you don't, you probably should dig them out if there is any hope of a sunny warm day soon, so they can get a cleansing flight in.
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Michael Bush
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Finski
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« Reply #13 on: August 23, 2011, 12:56:04 AM »


Finski, those foam rocks of yours look similar to volcano rocks. 


In the picture rocks are natural size.

They are made from same clay. In the link you see factories in Finland.

http://www.e-weber.fi/weber/yhteydenotto/tehtaatnbspjanbspvarastot.html?tx_weberfeusersfindretailer_pi1%5Bv_area%5D=
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Dimmsdale
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« Reply #14 on: August 23, 2011, 03:11:23 PM »

Thank you for the replies everyone!  I did want to make one clarification.  When I was talking about the amount of snow in my area, I meant to type 2-3 FEET not inches.  Sorry about the typo.  I would feel pretty silly worrying about 3 inches of snow.  Sounds like for this winter I will go with the top entrance and call it a season.  Next season I may elevate the hives, if for nothing else to make it easy on my back.  I was just worried about them being buried in snow, but never thought about the excellent insulation that would provide them.  Thanks again for all of the great advise!
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caticind
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« Reply #15 on: August 23, 2011, 03:18:18 PM »

See, that changes things!  If it's 2-3 feet, I would actually suggest you place them somewhere where they WILL be buried.  Just mark them so that you can dig down to the top entrances if a warm sunny day is forecast.
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The bees would be no help; they would tumble over each other like golden babies and thrum wordlessly on the subjects of queens and sex and pollen-gluey feet. -Palimpsest
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