How did you overwinter your TBH?

Discussion in 'Top Bar & other Alternative Hives' started by jozelmer, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. jozelmer

    jozelmer New Member

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    Hello,

    I have been thinking a lot about how I will try to overwinter my bees in my TBH. I have a couple of different ideas...but I haven't made up my mind just yet.

    I ordered a hive cover from a website...I think it was Backyardhive.com. Basically, the cover gets wrapped around the hive, with insulation between it and the hive. From what I could see, you wrap it in such a way that it still allows ventilation, and room for the bees to get out. Then, straw bales can be put under it and around it for added protection/warmth.

    I have also read about some people just using straw all around the hive. It almost seems like a good idea...but then I started thinking that the straw would probably get full of mice, as they too will be looking for a warm place over the cold winter.

    I have read about some people just moving the hive indoors, like into the garage or something. So that made me wonder if I could build a structure that keeps the snow of the hive, keeps them warm, but still gives them ventilation.

    Anyways, I have not decided what I am going to do, although I will have to make my mind up soon. I'm really hoping I can overwinter them. I'm going to be leaving them with a lot of honey...so I think I have a chance.

    I was curious to know if anyone had luck overwintering their TBH, and if so, how did you do it?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Barry Tolson

    Barry Tolson New Member

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    I'm quite a ways south of you, but I just put a piece of styrofoam sheet under the top cover of my TBH. It got through the winter the strongest of all my hives. The rest were Langstroths. I don't know if doing that made any difference, or not. It made "me" feel better, though!
     

  3. jozelmer

    jozelmer New Member

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    Hmmm...I never thought about putting anything under the top cover.

    Thanks Barry.
     
  4. M88A1

    M88A1 New Member

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    I'm down close to Bloomington Indiana and I have same question as jozelmer. As of right now the temps have been below freezing and I went to check my hives. My Warre hive looked like 3/4 of the bees disappeared. My TBH african style so i have been told was in much better shape. So my question is, with freezing weather still to come, do i just leave them or is there something I can do to protect them? I have put up a hale bale windbreak in front of the hive. I have thought about putting in a small light bulb to help keep them warm. Any other suggestions??????
     
  5. PerryBee

    PerryBee New Member

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    Try and get in touch with member Adam Foster Collins on this forum. He lives up here in Nova Scotia and has had succes in overwintering TBH's.
    In my opinion windbreak yes, small light bulb no!
    I am up here in Nova Scotia as well and found that my hives (Langstroths) that were simply wrapped in tarpaper did better than the ones wrapped in insulated cosies. Too much insulation can prevent the suns rays from giving a hive a bit of midwinter warmth on a cold but sunny day.
     
  6. M88A1

    M88A1 New Member

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    Thanks for the help Perrybee
     
  7. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    A piece of homosote or foamboard under the top cover will prevent condensation from forming under the top cover and then dripping back down onto the bees. Ventilation is good. Windbreaks are good. Lightbulbs or heating the hive- bad!
    Also you cannot put the hive inside a closed structure over winter, the bees need to get out and relieve themselves on a few sunny days during the winter.
    Don't forget that if the hive is warmer, the bees will be more active and consume more honey- they could eat through all their stores and starve if you artificially keep the hive warmer.
     
  8. Adam Foster Collins

    Adam Foster Collins New Member

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    Last winter, I put burlap sacks filled loosely with planer shavings in side the lid (which is peaked and has some space in there.), and a small (1'x1') square of fiberglass insulation right over the cluster. Then I screwed on a piece of 2" thick blue board insulation down the length of each long side. I closed the end entrance (which is all I have) down to about 1" with course, nylon scrub pad material, which let air pass through but not so much wind.

    I found things a bit too wet in the spring.

    This year, I filled the top covers with just a lot of burlap scraps to lightly insulate that space, closed down the entrances as last year - and that's it. We haven't had much for real cold yet this winter, but so far there's no moisture build up and the clusters look great. (I have 36"x6" windows down the sides to check on things.)

    My worry this year is whether or not they'll have enough food. They're still heavy at this point, but I wonder how it will play out in March.

    Adam
     
  9. jozelmer

    jozelmer New Member

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    I ended up following much of the advice I read on www.backyardhive.com, with regards to overwintering. I wanted to use straw to insulate it (as I read on www.backyardbees.ca), but was really worried about it getting overrun with mice. I used pink insulation (even though I was hesitant to use it...it's sort of nasty stuff. I just made sure it was clear of the entrances) and wrapped it around the hive, using bungee cords to keep it in place. I made sure to insulate the top really well, and put insulation underneath as well. I then covered it all in plastic, to keep it from getting wet. I left the entrances open, so there was air flow or ventilation. I left all the honey the bees had stored for them.

    In January, the temperatures were really warm (unusual for here). One day it was +9 degrees celsius, and I couldn't resist taking a peek. When I had insulated the hive, I made sure to make it so that I could access the observation window. I just had a quick look through the window. Everything looked good, so I jumped around happily for a while. Since January, we had a couple of cold snaps, with temperatures getting into the -37 degrees celsius. I'm trying to patiently wait until I can check the bees again in Spring. I hope they make it through...but if they didn't, then I guess I'll just have to try to learn from what I did wrong. My main concern now is that I may not have enough ventilation...and could end up with a build up of moisture inside the hive, which would not be good. It's torture waiting for spring...but nothing I can do about it. I wish everyone good luck with the overwintering of their bees.

    Jo
     
  10. Omie

    Omie New Member

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    It's hard to wait, isn't it? Especially when we keep reading posts from all the southern U.S. beekeepers who are already feeding and have their fruit trees blooming! =8-o
     
  11. jozelmer

    jozelmer New Member

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    It sure is...

    Spring can not come soon enough for me :)
     
  12. M88A1

    M88A1 New Member

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    My Warre hive is now vacant. I'm not sure if they ran out of honey comb or the cold drove them out. All thats left is empty comb. My KTBH still has bee's and I have added liquid feed and fondant. I did not add a cover or any insulation as the cold weather never seemed to arrive. I was worried about over heating and ventilation issues. I see a few new ideas here now to be better prepared for next winter. I set out and built 7 more KTBH this winter and have them ready. I thing different is, I added an external liquid feed holder that the bees can acess from inside but I can change the jar from the outside. This way its visable to me and I can keep them going to get a good start.
     
  13. jozelmer

    jozelmer New Member

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    Well, I was finally able to check my TBH at the end of April...and much to my disappointment, my bees did not make it. I think what happened was that when the temperature got really warm (we went up to +14 degrees celsius in the middle of January), they must have spread apart from the cluster to feed...and later that evening/next morning we dropped to -35 degrees celsius, and the bees froze where they were. When I took the lid off and moved some of the top bars, I found the bees all spread out, and it looked like they just froze in place. I could pick most of them up and look at them, and could find nothing else wrong. I was so disappointed. Okay, I was more than that...I was crushed. :cry: So, now I'm wondering did I make a mistake in leaving all the honeycomb for them...that it allowed them to leave the cluster, and that killed them? I can't control the weather...it should not be that warm in Alberta in the middle of January. I thought I had them well insulated, and protected from the wind. Although...when we hit that -35 degrees celsius, we did have a week and a half of that weather, and I know we even got down to -42 degrees celsius. So disappointing. Especially since I had seen them thriving just before the cold snap, and was so happy that they had made it half way through winter.

    Oh well...I will just have to try again. I made some modifications to my TBH. I added ventilation to the top of it, as I was not entirely satisfied with the way it was before. I also assembled a Warre hive. My two packages arrived May 5th, and they have been installed. (Unfortunately I had the flu the day my bees arrived, so it should have been a lot more enjoyable than it was). I've done a couple of quick inspections on my two hives, and so far things look good.

    I hope everyone else had better luck overwintering than I did. All I can do is try to learn from my mistakes, and keep trying. Have a great day everyone!

     
  14. jozelmer

    jozelmer New Member

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    How did your bees make out over the winter Adam?
     
  15. jim314

    jim314 New Member

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    Sorry to hear that jozelmer :cry: Maybe next year will be better.
     
  16. jozelmer

    jozelmer New Member

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    Thanks Jim :smile:
     
  17. darrenct83

    darrenct83 New Member

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    I just made sure to leave my top bar with plenty of extra honey. I put on an entrance reducer for the winter to reduce drafts. I did not use any insulation, and I'm pretty far North. The bees did great. This spring I harvested about 10 pounds of unused honey, and left them with around 20 to get them through the start of spring. We didn't have any real hard cold snaps this year though.