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Author Topic: Wintering a Langstroth hive  (Read 902 times)
New Bee
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Gender: Male
Posts: 4

Location: North Iowa

« on: December 15, 2012, 11:22:04 PM »

I live in North Iowa and I was wondering what is the best way to winter Langstroth hives? I have two hives. One with two 10 frame deeps and one with a ten frame deep and a medium.  Both were full of honey this fall. I am thinking of wrapping them.  I just don't want to get to much condensation. I am wondering what do other people do in cold climates? This is my first year of beekeeping.
House Bee
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Gender: Male
Posts: 73

Location: southeast iowa

« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2012, 01:38:50 AM »

I'm sure you will get alot of response on here it is a great resource, it helps to go through old post, some of the ideas that helped me get my bees through the winter, which isn't as cold here in southern Iowa , are the mountain camp method and putting an upper entrance in to let some condensation out , I also have a wind break on the west and north side of my hives made from a dog kennel and tarps.   This is my 4th year I'm still somewhat of a newbee but I'm always learning and this site is full of experienced beekeepers to help us newbees. 
Queen Bee
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Gender: Male
Posts: 1095

Location: Pinopolis, SC

That's my pooch.

« Reply #2 on: December 16, 2012, 08:26:50 AM »

I'm sure you will get alot of response on here it is a great resource, it helps to go through old post 

Search out the guys who live in cold locations like Michigan, BlueBee and Wisconsin, T Beek (blue cold winters). I've read their posts, good stuff. Finland, Finski, good info. UK, Derekm, more good info. Sometimes they agree to disagree but when it comes to winter they all got a clue.
I don't need to know a whole lot about over wintering except to provide enough food to get them through the nectar dearth but, I find the posts to be good reading/information.

Galactic Bee
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Gender: Male
Posts: 4491

Location: Mid Michigan

« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2012, 11:04:55 AM »

I only have a few hives in wood boxes (most are polystyrene) so I’ll refrain my saying much here since people who actually use tar paper would be a better source of input.  The bee books I’ve read typically recommend a tar paper wrap for northern locations to give the hives some solar gain on sunny winter days and as a wind break.  The bees should have things propolized together pretty good at this point, but a wrap is double protection from the wind.  The bees will be making a lot of moisture in a wood hive and hence a top vent also seems logical and is generally recommended by the books I read on wood hives.  Like I said, I use poly hives. 

Last time I knew, the commercial guys around me were not wrapping because it’s a lot of work to wrap 500 hives and they have figured out what works good enough for them to make a profit.  One commercial guy says his “secret” is the put candy boards on top of the hives in Jan/Feb.  While that may be a good idea, we should also respect the fact that the commercial guys know how to get their hives properly prepared for the winter (feeding, combining, etc) whereas us hobbyists’ tend to make mistakes.  I think if you’re wintering in a wood hive, the tar paper idea is some insurance against our mistakes.   
Field Bee
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Posts: 625

Location: Northern Virginia USA

« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2012, 12:17:58 PM »

JGasteiger, welcome to beekeeping and the forum.  cheer

I use straw bales around my hives as a wind break (about 1-1 1/2 feet away so I can walk around.) One year I even tried putting a dining fly tarp above the hives closest to the house (what a waste of time). I have yet to lose an entire colony to the winter but here in northern Virginia it is more a c_ap shoot as the weather is not a steady cold but very cold one day and 38 and sunny the next. I never thought wrapping the hives really be helpful for the bees or would be economical to me.  -Mike

Listen to others but make your own decisions. That way you own the results.
New Bee
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Posts: 20

Location: Elmira, NY

« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2012, 01:45:42 PM »

In -15F winter.
I've had good success with no wrapping, and a quilt box on top of the hive.

A quilt box is just a super with screen on bottom and dry chopped leaves, chopped straw or coarse sawdust/wood shavings in it.

I used dry chopped maple leaves from my lawn vac/shredder. They work very well... they insulate well, and moisture evaporates out of them so they don't get soggy, just a little damp on top for the first 1/4" or so.

Experimenting with insulation and wrapping this year to see if it is worth the trouble.
Field Bee
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Posts: 533

Location: glow in the dark Hampshire UK

« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2012, 04:08:23 PM »

You are much too late to do anything this year. you should have done something in October.
leave them alone now, your die has been cast. Wrapping now means at least a very large disturbance  to a colony on the edge of survival. Persons who had experience of "packing" in the U.S. recommended not pack after thanksgiving as this undid the benefit of doing so.
  Myself I take the view that one should insulate to the level of a tree nest all year. There is a very  good chance that Apis Mellifera knows what to do with the level of insulation they evolved to exploit.

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?
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