How to wrap a bee hive for cold winters

Editor’s Note: Today ’ s post on how to wrap a bee beehive is written by Jim Withers, a six-year beekeeper who keeps 140 colonies in and around Genesee County, Michigan.
When I began blogging in January 2010, I averaged five readers per day but soon dropped to one per day in February. still, I kept at it until one day person named Jim Withers commented on a post I had written. I was elated ! A alive beekeeper with a very comment ! Awesome !
But much to my horror, my husband—head of both the legal and engineering departments here at Honey Bee Suite—disagreed with Jim on some esoteric point of inflame transplant and changeable back a comment of his own. I was mortified : I had last obtained a reader and immediately my husband was going to lose him for me !
But Jim turned out to be a worthy adversary who, with grace and reason, defended his side and seemed not a piece offended. Best of all, he continued to follow my blog. He has been with me for four years now, and I think of him as a ally. Those who know Jim report he is just as he seems—kind, aristocratic, intelligent, generous, and absolutely passionate about his bees.

Btw, yesterday I asked Jim to send me a short bio ; rather, he sent me a treatise. so, if you want to know more about The Life and Times of Jim Withers, good click .

How to wrap a bee hive

Is wrapping hives truly necessary ? I think not. Is wrapping hives helpful ? I think so. A potent healthy colony with adequate stores, and a family decently constructed, can survive most of the winters we have here in mid Michigan without the add protection. then again, I ’ molarity certain that we could leave a few windows open in our home and survive the winter excessively. not identical energy effective, but do-able. Shouldn ’ triiodothyronine we apply this lapp reasoning to our bee hives ? I think adding a little security to make the bees ’ job of maintaining the bunch warmth a fiddling easier makes sense .
Some beekeepers believe that insulation or wrap ( two different things ) are bad ideas. Their put is that insulation will make it excessively warmly in the hive causing the bees to be more active and, consequently, use up their stores more promptly. besides, because they consume more, they build up more faecal material, which may cause them to defecate in the beehive. You can find much on that argument in magazine articles and books. In our mid-Michigan climate, I believe, insulation/wrapping allows them to burn less fuel ( honey ) to maintain bunch temperature. additionally, it is distinctive to have a warm enough day every few weeks that allows for some cleanse flights. I will leave it to you to decide where you come down on that debate .

Wrapped or insulated?

A wind hive has a level of black roofing felt around it which takes advantage of solar advance on cheery days .Let me clarify, first, a wrapped hive versus an insulated hive. A wrapped hive (which is what I do with full-size colonies) has a layer of black roofing felt around it which takes advantage of solar gain on sunny days. It doesn’t do much to prevent heat loss like insulation does. On a sunny day, however, it can raise the temperature inside the hive a few degrees. This could make enough difference to allow the cluster to move closer to honey stores. I have seen plenty of dead-outs with small clusters that, apparently, starved with honey in the hive, but just out of reach. Wrapping also helps seal out harsh winds. Although the bees seal up the joints between boxes with propolis, beekeepers usually mess up their nice mortar job when we inspect.
Let me clarify, foremost, a cloaked beehive versus an insulate beehive. A cloaked hive ( which is what I do with life-size colonies ) has a level of blacken roofing felt around it which takes advantage of solar reach on cheery days. It doesn ’ t do much to prevent heat loss like insulating material does. On a cheery day, however, it can raise the temperature inside the hive a few degrees. This could make enough dispute to allow the bunch to move closer to honey stores. I have seen enough of dead-outs with small clusters that, obviously, starved with beloved in the hive, but equitable out of reach. Wrapping besides helps seal out harsh winds. Although the bees seal up the joints between boxes with propolis, beekeepers normally mess up their courteous mortar speculate when we inspect. insulating material, measured in R-value, works by slowing heat transfer. I provide insulating material for my overwintering nucs. In this case, the beekeeper adds some material around the hive, typically foam-board these days, to make it easier to keep the hotness generated by the bunch in the beehive. To be clear, the bees in bunch are not attempting to heat the entire hive, merely the cluster itself. When there is no brood in the bunch, they maintain the center at around 70 degrees. When there is grizzle in the bunch, the temperature is kept around 90 to 95 degrees. The outside edges of the bunch are kept around 41 degrees. Below this, the bees would go into listlessness and be unable to move. even though the bees are not trying to heat the entire hive, the cold the ambient temperature, the more it will wick away the warmth generated by the bunch. Insulation will help to slow this .

Ventilation and overhead insulation

Two final points before I describe my simple proficiency for wrapping :



overhead insulation

. excessively much moisture in a winter beehive is surely a danger. Be sure to include an upper entrance for your bees to help ventilate some of the moisture out of the hive and to use for cleansing flights when the lower entrance becomes blocked with snow and ice. I besides am a solid believer in insulating the very acme of the hive. Think of a methamphetamine of ice water on a summer day. The very cold water system inside

the methamphetamine causes the moisture in the surrounding air to condense on it. The same can happen on the bottom of your inside cover. The relatively warm damp air inside the beehive can collect on the bottom of your telescoping cover because of the identical cold temperature outside. It could conceivably collect, freeze in layers over their heads, then rain down on them when a cheery sidereal day warms the lid. now, think of an isolate chump. Same cold water inside, same warm damp air outside, but no condensation on the mug. I highly recommend putting some type of insulating material between your outer cover and your bees. A simple 1/2″ – 3/4″ objet d’art of Styrofoam on the bottom of your telescoping cover should suffice. I would use the stuff with a plastic coating to discourage the bees from tearing off little pieces and dragging them out when the upwind warms a little in the form. I would besides take it out for the summer because ants like to tunnel into and make their home plate in it .

A list of steps

here is my simple proficiency for wrapping. I will add pictures to clear up the confusion my description is sure to cause .

  • Cut a piece of 15# roofing felt into a piece about 80″ long (I am assuming a standard Langstroth hive). Its height should match whatever number of boxes you have between your bottom board and telescoping cover. I leave the option available to pop open the top of my hives to peek in on the girls during the winter. I use candy plates as an emergency feed measure and want to be able to add more if need be.
  • You will need a 1/2″ pan-head screw, or some other short screw with a washer, and a 3/4″ X 3/4″ piece of wood nearly the same length as the height of your roofing felt. I start a few 1-1/4″ drywall screws into this piece of wood to make the job easier. It’s also a good idea to drill holes where these screws are going to go to prevent splitting the wood.
  • I start by screwing the pan head screw through one end of the felt near the top and side of the hive to hold it in position while I wrap the felt around.
  • Once wrapped around, the felt should overlap a few inches. I then place the 3/4″ piece of wood along this overlap and screw it into position.
  • That’s it! It takes only a minute or two. The nice thing about this technique vs stapling is the ability to recover your wrapping to use again next year. It’s also much quicker and easier than tearing the felt off in pieces the following spring. Trust me on this one. I learned it the hard way.
  • I have included a couple of pictures of my hive top set-up, which is a candy board with solid top, a piece of 3/4″ styrofoam, my inner cover on top just for a spacer, and the telescoping cover. Note the upper entrance is part of the candy board. This gets a lot of use throughout the winter. It is also a good idea to place a nice rock or something heavy on your lid to prevent it from blowing off—another unfortunate incident my bees have endured.

good luck to all this winter.

Jim Withers
Withers Mountain Honey Farm

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