Derekm, if your countrymen are any indication, your bees might to be too super insulated for your climate!
I finally got a copy of Brother Adam’s,”Beekeeping at Buckfast Abbey”. He talks about his experiments with super insulation on page 56. He constructed super insulated boxes having a 4” floor, 6” sides, and 8” top. He then wintered 4 hives in each super insulated box. He reports those boxes came through winter bone dry and not a sign of mold anywhere. That was great, but the bees lacked the desire to build up in the spring! He says his unprotected bees did much better.
A quote from his book:
“A trial was now conducted on a total of 168 colonies and in two divergent localities (in England). The outcome proved absolutely identical to the tests made in the first instant (at Buckfast Abbey). In short: this form of wintering did not only prove a complete failure, but in actual fact had a detrimental effect on the well being of the colonies”. Brother Adams, page 57
Brother Adam seems to suggest there may be something in the bee’s physiology that is triggered by cold and without that trigger they fail to build up in the spring. While he found extra protection in the winter to be detrimental, he did postulate that extra protection in March and April would probably be beneficial to the spring buildup.
What’s your take of Brother Adams?