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Author Topic: My winterizing method  (Read 2595 times)
Nyleve
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« on: November 04, 2012, 01:38:10 PM »

This is my second season beekeeping. Last winter I wrapped the hive in tar paper, put on a mouse-guard and laid some insulation over the inner cover (opening left open) with an empty super on top covered with the telescoping lid. All was fine - bees came through gangbusters. But it was a weirdly mild winter so I don't think it was typical at all.

This season I decided to go a bit farther with the winterizing. I cut 4 sheets of 1/2-inch rigid foam insulation and basically made a box around the hive, securing the corners with duct tape. I slid a sheet of the same insulation in underneath the screened bottom board (with the solid panel slid in also). I have two deep brood boxes topped by the inner cover and a third empty deep on top of that. I've been feeding the bees back frames of honey (they shared with me, so I'm sharing with them) and when I stop doing that - in the next 2 or 3 weeks - I'll remove the hanging frames, lay a sheet of insulation (with a vent hole cut into it) over the inner cover, cover with the lid and be done for the winter. I'm leaving the third box on top to contain the insulation and provide some ventilation space for moisture to escape. I also put on the mouse guard and reduced the front opening. I don't think the snow will get deep enough in the front of the hive to block the entrance - it's on a stand on a hill and the wind generally blows from the other direction. But obviously I'll check the hive if we get a big dump of snow.

Any comments on this? I haven't seen anyone else doing this kind of thing online. The rigid insulation was so much easier to work with than tar paper and I can save it to use another year. But if I've done something horrible, please tell me before it's too late. I'm in central Ontario - our winters get cold (-25 C isn't uncommon).
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Finski
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« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2012, 02:50:28 PM »

This is my second season beekeeping. Last winter I wrapped the hive in tar paper, put on a mouse-guard and laid some insulation over the inner cover (opening left open) with an empty super on top covered with the telescoping lid. All was fine - bees came through gangbusters. But it was a weirdly mild winter so I don't think it was typical at all.

some insulation do npt say what and how much.
Top cover must have bset insulation that it does not form ?
- 2 inch polystyrene is good.
- not hole open which move the moisture, - not out, but to the lofft.
- no extra box needed





Quote
I cut 4 sheets of 1/2-inch rigid foam insulation and basically made a box around the hive, securing the corners with duct tape. I slid a sheet of the same insulation in underneath the screened bottom board

It is better use one inch when youi do this job.

the insulation boar under the hive is good.
The floor chould be in slanting postition that water drills out. Moisture forms ice inside and when it melts, it is better to come out.

There should be upper entrance open in front wall that söight air movement move the moisture out. 15 mm hole diameter is enough.


Quote
I'm leaving the third box on top to contain the insulation and provide some ventilation space for moisture to escape.

That is a wrong technigue to move moisture from hive

 I also put on the mouse guard and reduced the front opening. I don't think the snow will get deep enough in the front of the hive to block the entrance - it's on a stand on a hill and the wind generally blows from the other direction. But obviously I'll check the hive if we get a big dump of snow.

Quote
. I'm in central Ontario - our winters get cold (-25 C isn't uncommon).

We have such weathers.

Open wind is not good to bees. When permanent snow falls down I put a blanket tent =geotextile over the hive. It protects from wind, snow and birds.

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Maryland Beekeeper
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« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2012, 03:05:44 PM »

 I ,"Boxed", as u say, w/ 2" board insulation, 6 sides. Considering indoor wintering for one, heater for another.
Cheers,
Drew
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Nyleve
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2012, 03:28:55 PM »

I'm having trouble adding quotes to my reply so I'll just try to remember the questions.

Last year I used some recycled fibreglass insulation - maybe 1-inch thick at most - with a moistureproof backing. I just stuffed it into the top empty super, over the inner cover, leaving a small opening for moisture to escape. Maybe it was the wrong thing to do, maybe it wasn't enough insulation. But somehow it turned out ok anyway.

As for the thickness of the styrofoam - oh well, live and learn. Next year I'll upgrade to 1-inch or thicker. At any rate, it must be better than a single layer of roofing paper - right?

Now, Finski - I'm having trouble understanding about the moisture business. How would you suggest I allow for venting? You said not to leave an opening - what, exactly, should I do instead? If I don't leave the empty super on top, what do I do? Where do I put the insulation? Under the inner cover? And then the outer cover over that? And I can tilt the hive up a bit to allow for drainage.

I can make a hole in the front where the upper entrance is, if you think that will help. I had closed it up recently because of the darn wasps.
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Finski
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2012, 03:53:30 PM »


Now, Finski - I'm having trouble understanding about the moisture business. How would you suggest I allow for venting?



Lower/ main entrance normally open mouse grid

Upper entrance in one box of your douple box hive. It moves moisture from inside and bees get air, if dead bees block the entrance.

The upper entrance in front wall is standard in Canada.   I have read your systems.

I wonder why polystyrene hives are unknown in Canada. In Europe they have been 25 years. No wrapping or extra insulations. I have same hive around the year.

My bees do not fly any more.

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Quote
Under the inner cover? And then the outer cover over that? And I can tilt the hive up a bit to allow for drainage.

- You have now inner cover.
- Then put insulation, what ever it is, like stone wool. It is good to put an excluder over the insulation that mice do not make their nest there.

- Then air gap
- rain cover

Quote
I can make a hole in the front where the upper entrance is, if you think that will help. I had closed it up recently because of the darn wasps.

I do not think, because I know it with 50 y experience
My winter conditions are about same as you have.
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tjc1
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2012, 05:40:54 PM »

Here is what I am planning, with a question about fiberglass insulation:

- entrance reducer at smallest opening w/ mouseguard
- SBB left open, base of hive stand enclosed with tar paper to keep wind from blowing up under the hive.
- Two deeps and a super (which still had a lot of honey while the top deep was light, so I left it on)
- Inner cover upside down with exterior vent hole open
- Above the inner cover, an empty super with a bat of fiberglass insulation and then the telescoping cover -

QUESTIONS: It seems the foil backing on the insulation should face the inside cover, or should I remove the foil? Should I close the center hole of the inner cover, or should I leave it open and put a hole in the foil of the fiberglass to allow for moisture to wick up through the insulation (as I read somewhere) and out through the upper super? Or is the exterior opening/vent hole in the inner cover enough? Or should I close the exterior opening and let the moisture rise through the insulation?

Thanks!
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Finski
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2012, 07:43:59 PM »

Here is what I am planning, with a question about fiberglass insulation:

- entrance reducer at smallest opening w/ mouseguard

- SBB left open, base of hive stand enclosed with tar paper to keep wind from blowing up under the hive.

- Two deeps and a super Too much space. Internal condensation proplems. Heat losses. No on ein Finkland use 3 box es in wintering. We put extra supers in stores. Hi
vev is not right place to store unextracted honey.


- Inner cover upside down with exterior vent hole open

- Above the inner cover, an empty super with a bat of fiberglass insulation and then the telescoping cover -

QUESTIONS: It seems the foil backing on the insulation should face the inside cover, or should I remove the foil? Should I close the center hole of the inner cover, or should I leave it open and put a hole in the foil of the fiberglass to allow for moisture to wick up through the insulation (as I read somewhere) and out through the upper super? Or is the exterior opening/vent hole in the inner cover enough? Or should I close the exterior opening and let the moisture rise through the insulation?

Thanks!

First basic rule in wintering is that you compress the hive room as small as bees can stay in.  Mostly one deef is enough to winter cluster.Two deeps and a super are absolutely too much space.

Too much room
- heat escapes from the cluster
- respiration air moves up, cools down and moisture condensates inside.

- Moist room makes nosema and mold.

- In tight room the hive is warm. Relative moisture keeps the hive dry.

. No on in Finland use 3 boxes in wintering. We put extra supers in stores. Hive is not right place to store unextracted honey

BASIC RULE II When you have SBB open, then you don't use upper holes open
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BlueBee
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2012, 10:09:25 PM »

I would concur that more than 2 deeps is excessive, but at this point changing that might be a problem.  We haven’t been above 45F for quite a while.  Too cold to be re-arranging bee hive parts.  I would not mess with your hive configuration in MA at this point unless we get a warm spell.

Open bottoms makes no sense to me, but others will argue until the cows come home that you must do it that way.  My bottoms are solid and at least 1” of polystyrene.  No heat losses through my bottoms.  My house also has an insulated bottom and it keeps my floor much warmer than the garage!

If you have an upper entrance, I don’t see any reason to also vent moisture into the fiberglass.  Wet fiberglass is not an insulator.  You get the stuff wet, or if the wind blows through it, the R value drops to nil.  I would put duct tape over your inner cover hole.  All my hives have solid inner covers with no holes.

The downside with a top and bottom hole configuration is you will set up a convection current through the hive (aka chimney effect).  Some heat and water vapor (and CO2) will exhaust through the top and fresh air (and oxygen) will be pulled in through the bottom hole (due to pressure drop as air escapes the top).  My nucs are just using a bottom entrance and my full size hives are just using a top entrance.  I think it makes sense to limit the chimney effect as much as practical.  I have had some issues with bottom only entrances; they often get clogged up with bees.  You’ll need to keep an eye on your bottom entrances.
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T Beek
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« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2012, 08:39:57 AM »

Nyleve; I learned how to overwinter my bees from Canadian Beeks and with just a few exceptions use very similar methods as you described.

For a top entrance; Instead of drilling holes in perfectly good supers, simply cut a small (2 1/2") notch on the front/bottoms of your inner covers (that way the top entrance always expands w/ the bees expansion and you have no holes to plug).  

I reduce both top and bottom entrances to allow enough escape room for 2-3 bees for the Winter.

Inside your empty supers 'above the inner cover' place a damp paper towel over the center hole, then dump 5-10 lbs of dry sugar inside (as insurance).  Then place 2" rigid insulation (cut to fit tight) inside and 'over' the sugar, topped w/ telescoping cover.  

The sugar also acts as a moisture absorbent.

This year I am also experimenting w/ wrapping in rigid insulation and except for the difference in size (I'm using 1" on the 4 sides, 2" on top and bottom) our methods are similar to many beeks keeping bees successfully in our part of the World.  However, Duct tape isn't always reliable or durable so one should consider that when wrapping it all up for winter.  For this years experiment I'm using 1/4" lathing, screwed into the bottom board and the top vent/feed super.  

We shall all see the results of our efforts come Spring.

Good luck to you.
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JackM
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2012, 09:00:35 AM »

You can cut slashes in fiberglas backing to allow moisture to pass, so you can put it either way if you do that.
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Parksguyy
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2012, 09:28:51 AM »

Hey Nyleve,
Cdn Beek here as well, about 2hrs east of you ... between Ottawa and Kingston.  First season with bees for me, I ended up purchasing hive wraps from the lady I got my bees from.  Its similar to bubble wrap with a double layer of closed cell wrap with a foil cover.  Supposely its rated at R16, and comes with a moisture wicking "pillow" that sits on top of the inner cover.  This pillow has silca beads in it that will absorb the moisture from the hive.  Its also comes with a separate piece that you slip under your bottom board ... I question this, largely due to trying to lift/move a very heavy hive.  So I just slipped it onto the top pillow for that added insulation.  These covers are one piece and simply slip over the entire double hive, or single.  I did put two shims onto of the inner cover just to ensure the pillow stays up and off of the cover.  The way it is sewn, creates a channel or valley anyways, so it wouldn't stop any ventilation.  We did end up with one weaker hive (out of four) ... so I poured a few pounds of suger onto the top inner cover, so in the new year they would have access to it once they move up ... this is providing they don't end up taking it now?  This cover completely seals the hives from any wind too ... I also reduced my entrance to its smallest opening and installed a mouse guard too, just in case.  And here I was worried the mouse guard maybe too restictive using the smallest opening ... not so ... the moment we started to place the guard the bees shot out of every hive, despite it being like 5 degrees and windy.  I got nailed twice by the girls, finger and wrist. 
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Parksguyy
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2012, 09:51:33 AM »

Me again, ran out of room ... from what I have learned from asking many beeks ... you want to go into winter with the strongest possible hives!  Being new beeks, we didn't take any honey this season and let the girls do their thing.  We did feed them very heavy a 2:1 syrup and they were taking it a gallon and more each day ... blew me away how much sugar we went thru.  That pretty much filled the hives, our weaker one continued to lag behind but at the same time grew ... just slower than the others.  We stopped feeding about 3wks ago, the girls pretty much told us that and then wrapped them this past weekend.  It was suggested we stop feeding and give the girls a couple of weeks to work the syrup and evaporate it and all that.  We did a mite count in September and found maybe 9 -13 mites over a 7 day period ... so very clean hives (thanks Debbie Hutchins!).  We are curious to see how this wrap works, others in the area have used it and liked it.  I love the ease of use!  Back to your wrapping, where others have done the same, they have used thicker styrofoam (2") ... and from what I have read, you may want to use some tie downs to secure the foam ... the duct tape may not last the winter. I debated long and hard whether I would insulate the top with an extra super filled w/foam ... given the weight of our hives decided that nature will govern.  We will be checking the girls early in the new year, and will have "patties" on hand just in case.  I'm a firm believer in letting nature do its thing, I will only intervene if the girls need help ... I think "we" tend to interfer more than we should.  Just my two cents worth.       
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T Beek
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2012, 10:27:22 AM »

Quote from Parksguyy; "I think "we" tend to interfer more than we should."

Ain't it the truth  grin
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Finski
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« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2012, 10:54:54 AM »


The sugar also acts as a moisture absorbent.

that is one propel heads' idea. NO facts behind it.
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Finski
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« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2012, 11:14:43 AM »



Inside your empty supers 'above the inner cover' place a damp paper towel over the center hole, then dump 5-10 lbs of dry sugar inside (as insurance).  Then place 2" rigid insulation (cut to fit tight) inside and 'over' the sugar, topped w/ telescoping cover.  


Good heavens. Do Canadians really do that?

We in Finland never play that game. We feed hives in September and they are in peace up to Mach or April. No need to touch them.
If somebody dies, its lowsy genes are then gone.

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T Beek
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« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2012, 11:37:56 AM »

Never to late to learn something new Finski  Wink.  Try it sometime.

Once wrapped for Winter I don't touch them until Spring either w/ exception of weekly visits w/ the stethoscope, nothing new there Fin.

While it 'might' be anecdotal (according to some), any remaining sugar when Spring arrives has obviously taken up moisture based simply on its new form, stiff as a board. 

My light hives certainly appreciate the food and will have eagerly begun eating, my more 'well to do' hives don't need it so they ignore it.

What could be wrong w/ that?

Yes Finski, several Canadian Beeks I know (and have known) practice similar methods, some are even more experienced than you  Wink.

"all beekeeping is local"
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Finski
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« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2012, 02:03:20 PM »

Never to late to learn something new Finski  Wink.  Try it sometime.

Once wrapped for Winter I don't touch them until Spring either w/ exception of weekly visits w/ the stethoscope, nothing new there Fin.

While it 'might' be anecdotal (according to some), any remaining sugar when Spring arrives has obviously taken up moisture based simply on its new form, stiff as a board.  

My light hives certainly appreciate the food and will have eagerly begun eating, my more 'well to do' hives don't need it so they ignore it.

What could be wrong w/ that?

Yes Finski, several Canadian Beeks I know (and have known) practice similar methods, some are even more experienced than you  Wink.

"all beekeeping is local"

what I should learn? Tp learn winterg from USA or UK?

Listen. - Bees in nature store food in theirt hives. They they make a cluster when temps drop near zero.

I follow that course. What else I should learn? My hives do not die for short of food, neither for moisture.
I learned that 45 years ago how to do it.

I am teaching here, not learning.

I have good locally adated Italian bees
I have splended polyhives and good insulation

Beek, can you show same level queens and hives in USA for Alaska that they need not kill their hives in autumn?

We have here this all in condition. I tried to learn something from Alaska but their beekeeping goes at shildrens level.


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T Beek
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« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2012, 04:01:28 PM »

With the exception of nuisance bears, my bees are doing just fine and have been chemical free since 2007...by me anyway  Undecided. No telling what those bees bring in  Wink.  My bees (and I suspect your bees) don't live in nature, they live in a box we provide them.

I hope I never stop learning Finski.  What's the alternative?  Death?
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tjc1
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« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2012, 07:07:04 PM »


[/quote]
BASIC RULE II When you have SBB open, then you don't use upper holes open

[/quote]

Thanks for the help, Finski - Just one question: with no upper hole open, how does the moist air escape? Won't it gather in the upper part of the hive and just stay there?
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Finski
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« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2012, 11:50:45 PM »




Thanks for the help, Finski - Just one question: with no upper hole open, how does the moist air escape? Won't it gather in the upper part of the hive and just stay there?

I use solid fglor and upper entrance. When I compare my openings togethe to mesh floor, it is only 5% that of mesh floor.

Moisture escapes via mesh floor. Ventilation is so big throuhg bottom,

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