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Dumb questions....Winterizing (NE Ohio)

A couple of dumb, basic questions… so thanks in advance for humoring me as I learn…just trying not to kill my bees over the winter. I was at my local bee club meeting this week (NE Ohio/ Cleveland area), but they won’t to discuss flow hives or differences, due to lack of experience, so even though I have a robust club, I feel like all of the information does not always translate…

  1. If I use a quilt box to absorb moisture should it go ABOVE my inner cover with the feeding hole open to let moisture out, or should it go under my inner cover with the feeding hole closed. OR is a moisture board a better option, or even a bunch of crumpled newspaper above the inner cover with the feeding hole open…willing to be practical to spend $ as needed, but not to waste if there are simple solutions at hand.

  2. Confirming that my hive should only have 1 opening (no top ventilation) at the entrance, protected by an entrance reducer/ mouse guard

  3. there was a lot of talk re: different exterior insulation options (including none)… can we use dark blue bubble wrap (actually a pool blanket) we have laying around (to wrap all sides of the hive, leaving the entrance open/ accessible or should we buy something specific? (at my meeting they discussed black cardboard waxed boxes - specific for bees- or pink insulation board but discouraged “bee was” because of breathability)

  4. I was in my boxes today… wondering if they are ready for winter or if I need to supplement food now (if yes, my preference would be to remove and drain the honey super and then feed some of that back to them) My hive is 2 brood boxes and a flow super.
    * My flow super (which has mostly full frames of capped honey, but both outside sides empty) I will drain and remove in the next bit of time (suggestions appreciated as to when)
    * My upper has 7 frames almost fully capped honey, 3 frames capped brood with about 30% capped honey. it weighs 50+ lbs my husband thinks
    * My lower box is significantly lighter 3 frame drawn out comb with some brood and honey, 2 frame with capped brood, drone brood and pollen, 2 frame with capped and uncapped brood, 1 frame of honey, 2 frames darker, like they had honey but now see to only have a little bit of brood or pollen. I am including a couple of photos of some of the less filled frames.

My bees were heavily bearding in the summer, not so much now as the evening cools. Lots of day time hive activity… and today while we were in the hive, I would say most frames (including honey super) were 80% covered with bees and then a couple were 50% covered and maybe 3 were 30% covered, if that helps to give a quantity of bees…

Any input is appreciated.

People do all of the above. I think the most important part is that the top is insulated and doesn’t let too much heat out. Personally I put it above an inner cover, I figure if there is some condensation it will fall onto the cover and maybe be partially wicked away and not drip on the bees.

I agree with that but some sweat by upper entrances to allow the warm moist air to leave by convection. The argument is that cold does not kill the bees, wet kills the bees. I see their point but warm dry bees must survive best.

I think you’ll always wonder… they can seem very ready and perish anyway. It seems like they are most likely to starve, not in the depths of winter, but after they have gotten going and then are hit with a long cold/wet stretch in the early spring.

But it sounds like you’re in pretty good shape assuming that your mite count is low.

If there is space for them to pack away more honey/syrup then I would give it to them. Worst case scenario they have extra in the spring.

I am in Canada, I opened my hive in mid-October (to take out the bucket feeder I had placed on top of the hive and got a shock. There was loads of moisture on the underside of my top board!
I had moved the plastic bottom piece up to reduce the cool breeze into the hive and I had put a top feeder over the hole in the top board … that reduced any ventilation from escaping from the top of my hive!! I quickly opened up the bottom to allow the moisture to dry and made sure when I put on my insulated moisture board I had a small entrance below it to allow air and moisture to escape.
I checked them later on a warm day - moisture was gone. I swear, I have made EVERY conceivable error this first year of beekeeping with my new hive!
In late October I wrapped my hive in foam insulation (even under the screen board) but ensured that the upper and lower entrances were open. I checked again for moisture, so far looks good.


Here in east tennessee the moisture levels are always high. The locals here have me using a top entrance as well. My colony was having lots of moisture control issues till they told me about it.

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