Wintering - Anyone doing Nothing to the hives?

Discussion in 'General Beekeeping' started by Adam Foster Collins, Nov 6, 2011.

  1. Adam Foster Collins

    Adam Foster Collins New Member

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    I'm wondering if anyone in an area with a hard winter has tried or practices making no alteration to the hive for winter? No wrap; no insulation. Maybe an entrance reduction of some kind - but nothing else substantial. If so, how long have you been doing this minimal approach, and how has your success been?

    Thanks,

    Adam
     
  2. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    Adam:

    I'm a first year beek, so my knowledge is not so vast, (actually it's kind of half vast ;) )

    The way I see it, anything I can do to help the bees survive the winter is beneficial.

    I've talked to other beeks in my area, and get all kinds of responses-everything from not doing a thing to wrapping, insulating, reducing entrances, etc., etc.

    I'm in the process of moving my 3 colonies from an elevated hive stand to a ground level stand. This puts a dead air space under the hives for insulation. I'm also wrapping them with black tarpaper, this helps as a wind-break, and the black color also absorbs the suns rays during the winter days. Along with entrance reducers and mouse guards-that's all I plan on doing other than crossing my fingers.
     

  3. Adam Foster Collins

    Adam Foster Collins New Member

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    Here in Central Nova Scotia, we rarely see temps above 80 F in the summer, so I think I'm going to try painting the hives a dark color. I know that people in Maine are doing that successfully, and Maine gets at least a week of 90 + every summer.

    For winter, I'm torn. If you insulate, then you increase moisture retention. I've heard about a lot of solutions that involve insulation, or moisture-absorbent material, and wrapping - so it occurred to me to ask about people who have gone the opposite route - to doing nothing.

    Adam
     
  4. gunsmith

    gunsmith New Member

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    From everything I've heard/read, insulating is a good idea. You have to make sure that you have good ventilation so the moisture that condenses on the inner cover has a chance to evaporate, rather than drip back inside-chilled brood is not a good thing. If your inner covers have the notch-that's what I'm, using for ventilation.

    Painting the boxes a dark color is a good idea. Omie-another member of the forum-in the Hudson valley region of New York, has green paint she uses. It has anti-bear properties :lol: Check her out in the members section.

    What is your averge winter temperature? Here in Ohio, we get temps. as low as minus 10(f). Usually around freezing.
     
  5. BjornBee

    BjornBee New Member

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    The r-value of one inch white pine, normally used in hive construction, is about as poorly a designed hive as you can make. Certainly the r-value in 3-6 inches of oak wall, or some other hollowed out tree, would allow the bees to benefit in feral colonies much better than standard hives. Then having the beekeeper break the propolis seal upon every inspection is also in my opinion is a negative.

    I have been insulating the tops much more in the past few years. I don't think it hurts.

    I also do not wrap or insulate hives. But I do not feed syrup in cold weather, use top entrances, and open my hives upon cold weather setting in. And I am also very keen in site selection of hive yards. Which to me, is part of the larger problems of hive management.

    Many extra precautionary procedures I see beekeepers worry about, comes about from missing important steps they can do to eliminate impacts on hives earlier.

    But I will agree, that wrapping, and additionaly insulation, is worth the effort, and is a great benefit to bees. Especially in early spring brood rearing.
     
  6. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Just asking, i have never wraped hives here in SW, Mo. and don't know any beekeepers who do. I have been told that in our area that if you wrap hives with tarpaper and the sun is shining with freezing temp. outside, that this gives the bees a false reading (making it warmer inside) from within the hive, and they will fly out and not make it back.I can see that in my area but for beekeepers in the far north states, this may not be a problem. :confused: Jack
     
  7. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    Jack, if that is true, why doesn't all the hives in walls and ceilings of houses fly out and die every winter? Their wall or ceiling hive is kept at approx. 72 F. all winter, but they are still there in the spring.
     
  8. brooksbeefarm

    brooksbeefarm New Member

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    Iddee, that's why i was asking? it made sense that it cuold happen, and i was wondering if any studies have been done on this. I was told this years ago by some old time beekeepers (most gone now) that you didn't question. :mrgreen: Jack
     
  9. Iddee

    Iddee New Member

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    I'm not a bee scientist, but I think it's the temp at the hive entrance that determines it. They will fly out into 20 degrees and die, at times when the sun is hitting the white entrance and landing pad. It will be well above freezing there.
     
  10. Hobie

    Hobie New Member

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    Offered as an anecdote with unknown amount of value:

    Several years ago I had a rather substantial colony living in the wall of a barn. Exterior was unpainted weathered barn wood, south facing. Interior wall was insulated, but rarely heated on the other side. On at least one sunny winter day, I'm guessing about 35F, a very large amount of bees flew and promptly took a header into the snow. I tried to put them on a dry board to warm up and fly home, with very little success.