Can bees still seal hive gaps w/propolis when it's cold out?

Discussion in 'Beekeeping 101' started by Omie, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    I'm wondering something- it's now usually only in the mid to high 40'sF daytime highs (with a few scattered great days in the 50's still).

    But here';s my thought on my hive which has two older semi-neglected deeps and new lids and bottom boards-

    Since the two big boxes have been separated twice these past two weeks, during the consolidation and moving of the hive to my house, and also the top lids and the bottom board stuff was replaced...that meant the propolis seals everywhere were broken. The two deeps had LOTS of lumpy propolis accumulation on both their upper and lower edge rims. I scraped lots of the hard lumps off the top edges when putting things back together, but I couldn't scrape the bottom edges- too heavy to manuever and scrape. Because the propolis lumps are hard in this cold weather, they created very thin gaps when the deeps were stacked again in their new sequence.

    The end result is that though the bottom board, two deeps, and upper lids look like they are nicely sitting flush on each other, there is a tiny gap you can see light through on both the tops and bottoms of the two deeps in the hive, and in between the two deeps- where the rough box edges don't quite seal all the way.
    Should I worry about this as a source of cold draft getting into the hive during our frigid upcoming winter?
    My question is:
    Are the bees able to get/make propolis in this now cold weather to seal the gaps up themselves from the inside of the hive this late in the season when it's cold in the 40'sF?
    Or should I maybe wrap the back and sides of the hive with something to reduce the effect of cold winter wind possibly getting in those thin gaps?
     
  2. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    I typically wrap my hives with tar paper for the winter, regardless of propolis. All 4 sides, with the front cut shorter to keep the entrance open. Stapled on. In my opinion, the tar paper helps block the wind from getting through, plus has the added benefit of warming the hive when the sun manages to come out. Plus, it's cheap ;)

    I also put the tar paper on late, to prevent th hive from overheating if we have an indian summer. Less bees buzzing about while you staple, too.

    Personally, I do not like insulation, because I think it not only keeps the heat in, but it also prevents the hive from warming up as fast when the outside temps creep up. Others may disagree.
     

  3. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Bees will begin to cluster at approx. 43 degrees. Below that, they will likely not make much propolis. Above that, they will be able to work it fine. That is approx., tho, and may work down into the 30's or may cluster in the upper 40's. Your temps should give them plenty of time to seal the cracks. A little extra wrap wouldn't hurt, tho, and just might help.
     
  4. sqkcrk

    sqkcrk New Member

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    Generally speaking, if the hive looks otherwise tight, then you shouldn't worry about the cold getting in.

    That being said, many, if not most, people in Upstate NY wrap their hives for the winter.

    Just to confuse things a little, and this was 25 or 30 years ago, well before varroa, I saw a hive in VA, near Williamsburg, that had been worked on by woodpeckers. It looked like a sponge, it was covered w/ holes. The bees did fine.

    In another case, here in NY, I have seen hives that had fallen over some time before winter came. And they survived the winter just fine, even w/ the cover and bottom exposed.

    Also remember, No one is wrapping bee trees. And they get by some how.