Beekeeping Forums banner
1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Being a new beekeeper and this my first winter with my bees, I worry I did wrong. Natural, I know but...
Yesterday, here in Northeast ,Ohio, it was 65 degrees and going to be about that today on the 10th. The wife and I have two deeps and we placed my candy board on top . The candy board is screened on the bottom with 1/2 inch hardware cloth. Its a full block of sugar with a winter pattie in the middle. I have no newspaper between the top of the frames and the sugar. On top of the candy board, I put a quilt box, actually called a hot box winter box from kelly Bees. Was it to soon to put that sugar board on? With these heated days, would the sugar melt and make a mess or kill my bees? My candy board has an entrance/escape hole and so does my quilt box.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
96 Posts
You should seek advice from local beeks to see how they overwinter.
Check with a local beek that has successfully overwintered, not someone who buys bees every spring.
You could supply your Ag zone number here for reference.
I'm in zone 8 no snow, I'd guess you are in zone 4 or 5, seek advice from successful beeks from that zone.

You are decribing a summer setup, I would not use a top vent in winter, it lets precious heat sneak out.
I would close up the top and insulate the top minimum R20.
Tape up the joints if the wind blows hard on them maybe even wrap them if you get drifting snow.
Prop a board at an angle in front of the entrance to keep wind and snow off the bottom board.

I doubt the sugar will melt from a warm day.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
You should seek advice from local beeks to see how they overwinter.
Check with a local beek that has successfully overwintered, not someone who buys bees every spring.
You could supply your Ag zone number here for reference.
I'm in zone 8 no snow, I'd guess you are in zone 4 or 5, seek advice from successful beeks from that zone.

You are decribing a summer setup, I would not use a top vent in winter, it lets precious heat sneak out.
I would close up the top and insulate the top minimum R20.
Tape up the joints if the wind blows hard on them maybe even wrap them if you get drifting snow.
Prop a board at an angle in front of the entrance to keep wind and snow off the bottom board.

I doubt the sugar will melt from a warm day.
Actually, I am in zone 6a in Ohio. I have been to a couple of meetings at a local beekeeper's assoc. of which there must be at least 70 members of which I am still trying to know . To my surprise, I have asked about winterizing my hive with 6 of them and not one is on the same page as the other. All have a different way of doing. Hence, my confusion. Their experience with the ones I have questioned range from 7 years to as much as 40 years.

I do have my hive wrapped in what they call a Bee Cozy. I did remove my candy board with a sugar block in place, thinking it is way to early to supplement feed that but I did put my so called Winter Hot Box ( quilt box) back on. The Wintering Hot Box is sold by Mann Lake. Several people have made good claims about using the Quilt Box, however, some do not and just put their inner cover on with the notch up and facing to the rear and place their top cover on it and then just stick a piece of 1-1/2" insulation right on top of the top cover and place a brick on it or strap it down so it doesn't blow off.
I do like your idea of placing a board over the bottom entrance so that the rain or snow can run off and away from the entrance. Others have suggested that to me also and I am still trying to figure out how to do that with this Bee Cozy wrap in place. Where there is a Wil, there is a way.;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
96 Posts
Fred Dunn uses a visor he fabs up to hang over the entrance.

You could just lean a piece of plywood up against the front at an angle so the bees can still get in and out.
Zone 6 is not that cold, Im guessing, You likely dont get drifting snow except in storms?
But high winds and sustained low temps will favor the wrap.

Over the last 40 studies have been made that show the bees prefer a closed top hive with an insulated top so condensate does not form on the top cover.
When the top cover is colder than the hive air temp it causes condensation to form on the bottom of the lid. If that condensation drips down on the cluster they will not be happy.
Venting the top to let that condensate out wrecks the bees ability to control their environment.
Also a vented top lets precious heat out, which means the bees will require more carbs to make up for that lost heat.
Remember the highest heat loss is out the top.
In the heat of the summer a top vent may be desirable but the bees are consummate heating and air conditioning specialists.
They do better when they are able to regulate temps and humidity on their own.
If you accept that the bees do things for good reason, and see that they will consistently propliyze closed any upper openings, that means they do not want upper venting.

I am going to make deeper telescopic covers that will accept a slab of 2" foam so that insulation is built into the lid.

Another consideration is that I am told the bees use condensation from the hive walls as a water source, so eliminating that source of hydration by venting it from the hive would mean they would have to forage for water.

To witness these conditions, I have a stack of used inner covers and they all are stained and sagging in the center from the wood getting wet from condensate. And you can also see that the BeeK had notched the inner covers in an attempt to vent the condensate. The source of these covers was a BeeK that had given up because he was unable to get bees through the winter. The mating telescopic covers that were used with those inner covers show the same signs of water damage from the inside, a circle of stained sagging rotted wood in the center.

I want any condensate to form on the walls not the lid, on the walls if it is not used it can harmlessly run out the front of the hive (not drip on and chill the cluster).
Lastly, venting, burlap, woodchips, are all treating a symptom, rather than address the cause. Prevent the condensation by insulating the tops.
BeeKs who have used these methods will note the colony requires considerably less honey to make it through the winter.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Fred Dunn uses a visor he fabs up to hang over the entrance.

You could just lean a piece of plywood up against the front at an angle so the bees can still get in and out.
Zone 6 is not that cold, Im guessing, You likely dont get drifting snow except in storms?
But high winds and sustained low temps will favor the wrap.

Over the last 40 studies have been made that show the bees prefer a closed top hive with an insulated top so condensate does not form on the top cover.
When the top cover is colder than the hive air temp it causes condensation to form on the bottom of the lid. If that condensation drips down on the cluster they will not be happy.
Venting the top to let that condensate out wrecks the bees ability to control their environment.
Also a vented top lets precious heat out, which means the bees will require more carbs to make up for that lost heat.
Remember the highest heat loss is out the top.
In the heat of the summer a top vent may be desirable but the bees are consummate heating and air conditioning specialists.
They do better when they are able to regulate temps and humidity on their own.
If you accept that the bees do things for good reason, and see that they will consistently propliyze closed any upper openings, that means they do not want upper venting.

I am going to make deeper telescopic covers that will accept a slab of 2" foam so that insulation is built into the lid.

Another consideration is that I am told the bees use condensation from the hive walls as a water source, so eliminating that source of hydration by venting it from the hive would mean they would have to forage for water.

To witness these conditions, I have a stack of used inner covers and they all are stained and sagging in the center from the wood getting wet from condensate. And you can also see that the BeeK had notched the inner covers in an attempt to vent the condensate. The source of these covers was a BeeK that had given up because he was unable to get bees through the winter. The mating telescopic covers that were used with those inner covers show the same signs of water damage from the inside, a circle of stained sagging rotted wood in the center.

I want any condensate to form on the walls not the lid, on the walls if it is not used it can harmlessly run out the front of the hive (not drip on and chill the cluster).
Lastly, venting, burlap, woodchips, are all treating a symptom, rather than address the cause. Prevent the condensation by insulating the tops.
BeeKs who have used these methods will note the colony requires considerably less honey to make it through the winter.
Your post is both very interesting and informative and well written. It has given me some good ideas and food for thought. Interesting that you also mention Fred Dunn as I didn't know of him until you mentioned him and a friend who came by yesterday with his wife for a visit, brought his name up and told me about his videos. I have spent the best part of 2 hours watching his videos this morning. I also ran across the video where he talks about his hive configuration for winter.Thank you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
96 Posts
Over the last year Freds approach has changed with findings from research.
So catch his latest for the most up to date info. Bee Keeping Q & A #133

Edit: watch his bee keeping answers videos starting the most recent and work backwards until you can answer the questions before Fred does.
At that point you will have a good basic practices knowledge base. (And a properly tuned BS meter)
That will give you some familiarity with what a normal hive looks and runs like and what to worry about and not worry about.

Your new video watching list

Fred Dunn
Randy Oliver
Texas Bee Supply
Bob Binnie

Watch the three linked videos first, that will give you a good base, then you will be well armed to chase your other concerns or interests.
Watch them a few times over the next months, there is lots of info and you will not get it all in one viewing.
Best to get you started on stuff that does not need a BS detector, so you can tune yours for the other videos.

You will see a lot of videos from well intentioned authors with bad info, the first year as a BeeK it is very difficult to separate, the "Art", from the BS, and the BS from the science in some areas.
Bee Keeping methods have changed through the years and many will not move off what works for them, we don't use baskets anymore....
Many of the mis-interpretations have little to no basis when looked at with scientific eyes.
So clean your glasses and get a fresh cup of coffee this is going to be an "E" ticket ride!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Wil

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Over the last year Freds approach has changed with findings from research.
So catch his latest for the most up to date info. Bee Keeping Q & A #133

Your new video watching list

Fred Dunn
Randy Oliver
Texas Bee Supply
Bob Binnie

Watch the three linked videos first, that will give you a good base, then you will be well armed to chase your other concerns or interests.
Watch them a few times over the next months, there is lots of info and you will not get it all in one viewing.
Best to get you started on stuff that does not need a BS detector, so you can tune yours for the other videos.

You will see a lot of videos from well intentioned authors with bad info, the first year as a BeeK it is very difficult to separate, the "Art", from the BS, and the BS from the science in some areas.
Bee Keeping methods have changed through the years and many will not move off what works for them, we don't use baskets anymore....
Many of the mis-interpretations have little to no basis when looked at with scientific eyes.
So clean your glasses and get a fresh cup of coffee this is going to be an "E" ticket ride!
I am so grateful for your feedbacks. The wife and I have already started to kick back and watch these video that you attached. Really glad you attached the #133 video of Fred's because the wife and I could only find up to #130 but #130 was very interesting also.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Fred Dunn uses a visor he fabs up to hang over the entrance.

You could just lean a piece of plywood up against the front at an angle so the bees can still get in and out.
Zone 6 is not that cold, Im guessing, You likely dont get drifting snow except in storms?
But high winds and sustained low temps will favor the wrap.

Over the last 40 studies have been made that show the bees prefer a closed top hive with an insulated top so condensate does not form on the top cover.
When the top cover is colder than the hive air temp it causes condensation to form on the bottom of the lid. If that condensation drips down on the cluster they will not be happy.
Venting the top to let that condensate out wrecks the bees ability to control their environment.
Also a vented top lets precious heat out, which means the bees will require more carbs to make up for that lost heat.
Remember the highest heat loss is out the top.
In the heat of the summer a top vent may be desirable but the bees are consummate heating and air conditioning specialists.
They do better when they are able to regulate temps and humidity on their own.
If you accept that the bees do things for good reason, and see that they will consistently propliyze closed any upper openings, that means they do not want upper venting.

I am going to make deeper telescopic covers that will accept a slab of 2" foam so that insulation is built into the lid.

Another consideration is that I am told the bees use condensation from the hive walls as a water source, so eliminating that source of hydration by venting it from the hive would mean they would have to forage for water.

To witness these conditions, I have a stack of used inner covers and they all are stained and sagging in the center from the wood getting wet from condensate. And you can also see that the BeeK had notched the inner covers in an attempt to vent the condensate. The source of these covers was a BeeK that had given up because he was unable to get bees through the winter. The mating telescopic covers that were used with those inner covers show the same signs of water damage from the inside, a circle of stained sagging rotted wood in the center.

I want any condensate to form on the walls not the lid, on the walls if it is not used it can harmlessly run out the front of the hive (not drip on and chill the cluster).
Lastly, venting, burlap, woodchips, are all treating a symptom, rather than address the cause. Prevent the condensation by insulating the tops.
BeeKs who have used these methods will note the colony requires considerably less honey to make it through the winter.
I am glad that I revisited this topic and your post to me because I once again found myself questioning my thoughts and hive configurations going into my second winter with bees. Seems I forgot what your advice was and once again found myself listening to a few beekeepers in our association and by the way, in about 60 members, none can agree on anything. Results are, I get even more confused to what to do and what not to do and that which is best to keeping bees healthy, especially through the winter. Seems I once again fell into the thinking of building Quilt boxes and filling them with the same type of wood chips that I use for our horse stalls. All of which have venting drilled into the upper part of the quilt box to let built-up moisture out. After reading your post again, I am thinking that my move to quilt boxes is not the correct way to go, in fact, I've found it to be more work, more material and another item to find a place to store for. I might ditch the quit box idea altogether.
One thing I did start to do is extend the sides on my top covers and added a piece of 1 inch insulation because that is all I had on hand, which is only R5, however. Home Depot wants $44 for a 2 inch EXP insulation so I didn't buy it. I only did two top covers with one inch, but I did cut a 2x4 down to 3/4 inch thickness and added that to the top cover sides and added an extra piece of 1 inch insulation to give me a total of two inches. I then added a piece of coroplast board so as to keep the bees from chewing on the XPS. I also made wedges to slide into the notch of the inner cover so as to block that off so precious warm air and moisture wouldn't escape. Hives are always tilted 1/4" on 12 towards the front so water can drain towards the wall.
Last year, I only had the one hive to worry about but going into this Winter, I now have 7.
I did make some candy boards to mimic the one I made for my first hive which had a sugar block that I made using 16 pounds of sugar to 3 cups of water and sat out to harden with a touch of Honeybee Healthy in it, which I don't like by the way. It gave off a very strong odor/fragrance that I sure would mess with the pheromones in the hive. Going forward, I think I will just use a touch of Apple Cider Vinegar to keep the sugar from fermenting. With that said, I would like even a simpler emergency feeding system for winter.
I'm still on the fence about the screened bottom boards though. I admit that most around here in my bee club are also starting to go back to the solid bottom boards. For me, I found them only convenient for reading mite drop and to add more ventilation in the hot summer. However, I never knew how much to open or close the bottom up so about the middle of Summer, I said to heck with it and closed them up all the way. I have since started to change over to solid bottom boards but will have to wait until Spring when the hives are lighter to change out the rest. Meanwhile I have 1-1/2 inch insulation underneath the Screened bottom boards to keep any drafts out.
If there is anything I left out or anything at all that you or anyone can add, please feel free to do so. Opinions and advice are always welcomed.
Again,I am in NE Ohio in zone 5b.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
I am glad that I revisited this topic and your post to me because I once again found myself questioning my thoughts and hive configurations going into my second winter with bees. Seems I forgot what your advice was and once again found myself listening to a few beekeepers in our association and by the way, in about 60 members, none can agree on anything. Results are, I get even more confused to what to do and what not to do and that which is best to keeping bees healthy, especially through the winter. Seems I once again fell into the thinking of building Quilt boxes and filling them with the same type of wood chips that I use for our horse stalls. All of which have venting drilled into the upper part of the quilt box to let built-up moisture out. After reading your post again, I am thinking that my move to quilt boxes is not the correct way to go, in fact, I've found it to be more work, more material and another item to find a place to store for. I might ditch the quit box idea altogether.
One thing I did start to do is extend the sides on my top covers and added a piece of 1 inch insulation because that is all I had on hand, which is only R5, however. Home Depot wants $44 for a 2 inch EXP insulation so I didn't buy it. I only did two top covers with one inch, but I did cut a 2x4 down to 3/4 inch thickness and added that to the top cover sides and added an extra piece of 1 inch insulation to give me a total of two inches. I then added a piece of coroplast board so as to keep the bees from chewing on the XPS. I also made wedges to slide into the notch of the inner cover so as to block that off so precious warm air and moisture wouldn't escape. Hives are always tilted 1/4" on 12 towards the front so water can drain towards the wall.
Last year, I only had the one hive to worry about but going into this Winter, I now have 7.
I did make some candy boards to mimic the one I made for my first hive which had a sugar block that I made using 16 pounds of sugar to 3 cups of water and sat out to harden with a touch of Honeybee Healthy in it, which I don't like by the way. It gave off a very strong odor/fragrance that I sure would mess with the pheromones in the hive. Going forward, I think I will just use a touch of Apple Cider Vinegar to keep the sugar from fermenting. With that said, I would like even a simpler emergency feeding system for winter.
I'm still on the fence about the screened bottom boards though. I admit that most around here in my bee club are also starting to go back to the solid bottom boards. For me, I found them only convenient for reading mite drop and to add more ventilation in the hot summer. However, I never knew how much to open or close the bottom up so about the middle of Summer, I said to heck with it and closed them up all the way. I have since started to change over to solid bottom boards but will have to wait until Spring when the hives are lighter to change out the rest. Meanwhile I have 1-1/2 inch insulation underneath the Screened bottom boards to keep any drafts out.
If there is anything I left out or anything at all that you or anyone can add, please feel free to do so. Opinions and advice are always welcomed.
Again,I am in NE Ohio in zone 5b.
do a search on this sight for a recipe for bee fondant, you boil the sugar with another ingredient( I believe cream of tartar and salt) that makes the sugar more digestible to the bees..heres the link to what I made..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
166 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
do a search on this sight for a recipe for bee fondant, you boil the sugar with another ingredient( I believe cream of tartar and salt) that makes the sugar more digestible to the bees..heres the link to what I made..
Thanks for the link. I have one question though since looking over the recipe for making the fondant. Wouldn't the pollen substitute invite the Small Hive Beetles into the hive ? I was under the impression that pollen subs should only be given in the Spring time and only if it is supplied for the bees outside of the hive at a feeding station a good distance from the hives.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
Thanks for the link. I have one question though since looking over the recipe for making the fondant. Wouldn't the pollen substitute invite the Small Hive Beetles into the hive ? I was under the impression that pollen subs should only be given in the Spring time and only if it is supplied for the bees outside of the hive at a feeding station a good distance from the hives.
I use half of what the recipe calls for, pollen substitute....when I used the fondant I didnt notice any more beetles than normal...a few here and there..
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top