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Author Topic: winter  (Read 834 times)
colbees
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« on: November 03, 2013, 06:05:48 PM »

Hi everyone im in upstate new york and have some questions about winter. Should i leave my copper tops on the hives or put the Styrofoam tops on. Also, should i wrap the hives, my concern is moisture?? When should i feed until. Thanks
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Robo
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« Reply #1 on: November 03, 2013, 06:41:41 PM »

You will get plenty of opinions,  but I'll start with my experience.

You want the highest insulation value on the top of your hive,  I use 2" rigid insulation board.   Heat (and moisture) rises.  You don't want it to condense above the cluster,  rather on the walls, so it doesn't drip on the bees,  but still gives them water to consume.

I also do not provide upper ventilation that many will recommend.  It acts as a chimney and suck the heat out of the hive.  You will get plenty of folks telling you that cold doesn't kill bees, but moisture does.   I have never seen a feral colony with ventilation in winter.  All ferals that I have dealt with seal all openings with the exception of the main entrance.   I can also tell you that a warmer hive will be able to raise more brood in the early spring.

If moisture is still a concern,  you can use a quilt box (aka Warre hive)  that will allow moisture to be absorbed, but will not let the heat escape.

Good luck
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OldMech
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« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2013, 08:28:20 PM »

Pretty much what Robo said.. except like he said not to do I do have a top entrance.. its not so much for ventilation as it is for the bees to get in and out unless I want to go out and dig the snow out of the bottom entrances every fifteen minutes when the wind is howling and blowing the snow about. I use a 2" piece of insulation/foam on top and I do wrap.. verdict is still out on wrapping.. I am not so concerned about moisture on the walls as I am if its dripping down on the bees..  Most of the beeks in this area wrap. Supposedly it allows the bees to move more often to get to stores on days they normally wouldnt...
   I have been helping winter hives for about 6 years, and doing my own for the second time... This is how we have done it...
   With the bottom entrance reduced, 3" by 5/16 opening. A small 5/16 by 1 inch opening at the top, hive wrapped, and top insulated.
   2" spacer on the top box, paper and sugar on the top frames leaving the front 1/4 open. Inner cover with notch (5/16 by 1") down. Foam insulation on top of that, tele cover on top of the insulation and a strap to keep things where they belong in high winds.
   A lot of guys will nay say the sugar, the top entrance etc...   Their way may VERY well be better, I can only say that 93% of the time when I unwrap a hive in the spring it has worked very well. Sometimes the sugar will be nearly gone, sometimes they have left it almost completely alone. Moisture in the hive turns it into a block of sugar candy... good? Bad?  I think it helps absorb some of that moisture, but have read that it "traps" the moisture in the hive...  so take it for what its worth. Keep reading the posts, the methods and decide how YOU want to do it...
   Last couple of wintering threads were locked due to lack of anger management.. I hope this one fares better. Interested in the responses myself!!!
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T Beek
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2013, 04:48:25 AM »

Any time advise is offered with such subjective certainty............dig deeper for your own answers.  There is rarely one way to do anything, especially in beekeeping.

Back to the question.  Is there a way to place the styro 'under' your copper top?  If so, that's what I'd do.

Wrapping is a BEEKS choice.  There are pro and con to each.
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Vance G
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« Reply #4 on: November 04, 2013, 11:21:25 AM »

A snow covered beehive is an insulated beehive.  Now if you are going to have a fifty degree day and it has been months since your bees have been out, it is good to dig them out.  When you do, you will find a cavity melted around the hive by the heat of the colony.  That said, one open entrance is enough in the winter.  Mine is a hole bored thru the front of the upper brood box just below the handhold.  Above that, is indeed well insulated to hold whatever warm air and moisture wants to linger.  We all need to find what works for us as beekeeping, as is often said, is local.
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merince
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« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2013, 02:28:21 PM »

I put pink insulation foam under the telescoping lid as Robo suggested. I also strap 4 sheets of insulation around the sides. I also put mouse guards.

You can see the pictures here: Wrapping hives

It is not the most pleasing sight, but it gets the job done.
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colbees
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« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2013, 02:45:20 PM »

is it okay to cover the inner cover hole if i do put some insulation under the lid, thanks
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A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay; A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon; A swarm of bees in July isn't worth a fly.
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« Reply #7 on: November 04, 2013, 02:52:15 PM »

If you mean the "hand-hole" it is OK, as sometimes the bees will chew the insulation and haul it out. A piece of duct tape on the insulation that goes over the hole (so the duct tape is towards the bees) works great.
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Robo
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« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2013, 08:12:55 PM »

If you mean the "hand-hole" it is OK, as sometimes the bees will chew the insulation and haul it out.

Good point. Yes they will chew the heck out of the pink or blue insulation board.   I usually by the foil faced insulation board,  but when I can't get it,  I use spray adhesive and attach a piece of the silver emergency blankets (regular plastic sheeting would work too).

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T Beek
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« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2013, 05:00:31 AM »

Ooooops, I've been calling those inner cover holes 'feeder' or 'vent' holes for nearly forty years.  Its a 'hand' hole?  Really?  Undecided

As a final winter wrap up procedure I place a damp paper towel over this inner cover hole and dump between 5-10 lbs (depending on weight) of dry sugar on top with an empty super to hold it, telescoping cover over that.

The sugar absorbs considerable moisture throughout the winter, making it like a rock by February/March.  Once the dandelions bloom any remaining sugar is removed and used for syrup whenever needed.

Some colonies will need the sugar and are chowing down at first Spring inspection, some never need it and thus ignore it.  Its moisture absorbing insurance is all.  A few inches of sugar, topped with some insulation of any variety works wonders for bees in Northern Wisconsin.
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OldMech
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« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2013, 08:22:22 AM »


As a final winter wrap up procedure I place a damp paper towel over this inner cover hole and dump between 5-10 lbs (depending on weight) of dry sugar on top with an empty super to hold it, telescoping cover over that.

The sugar absorbs considerable moisture throughout the winter, making it like a rock by February/March.  Once the dandelions bloom any remaining sugar is removed and used for syrup whenever needed.

Some colonies will need the sugar and are chowing down at first Spring inspection, some never need it and thus ignore it.  Its moisture absorbing insurance is all.  A few inches of sugar, topped with some insulation of any variety works wonders for bees in Northern Wisconsin.

   Agreed!!!
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39 Hives and growing.  Havent found the end of the comfort zone yet.
colbees
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« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2013, 06:43:39 PM »

the sugar doesn't make a mess off the inside of the hive? and you just pour the sugar over the top of the inner cover
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A swarm of bees in May is worth a load of hay; A swarm of bees in June is worth a silver spoon; A swarm of bees in July isn't worth a fly.
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« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2013, 07:50:53 PM »

The paper towel keeps the sugar from spilling and making a mess.
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