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Flow Hive Winterization, Virginia USA


#1

How is everyone else winterizing their hives? I’m running a 2 deep brood. Here in Virginia we have to run a 2+ deep to be able to make it through the winter. What other methods did you all choose?


#2

Daniel,

Your hive does look fairly well insulated. How cold do your area dip into there on the East Coast ? What is the idea of Winterizing by your local hobbiest n commercial folks there?

Over here in the Pacific NW SE of Seattle we kind of prepare from some cold but moisture can be a bigger enemy.

. Since we don’t often (seldom) dip into the teens or single digits I’ve choose not to wrap out here in our foothills. The commercial mentor here only adds a inner moisture blanket n two piece of styrofoam. Since I only have three active hives I’m going with a moisture “Quilt” n a similalar piece of foam.

I’ve made sure the hive is maxed out with honey supply n added a couple of winter patties on top for “just in case” safety… Here we deal with a long cool (30’s n low 40’s) except maybe in January n wet rainy winter environment.

My one 5 frame double deep Nuc I’m still analyzing whether I might add foam sheet around it … But I have built a narrower “quilt” to absorb condensate for it as well because external moisture is more of our PNW enemy than ultra COLD.

Good luck n happy beekeeping.
Gerald


#4

Here is my two hives. I have moisture quilts on the top of both of the hives as well as insulation in the roof’s. I put sugar fondant on the top of the frames in both hives as well. At this point I will most likely wait until a warm day in January to take a peek into the hive on the right. Of the two hives it had the lesser amount of resources. Having a rather warm winter. It was 53 degrees F today. Saw some bees bringing in pollen today. Projected highs to be in the mid forties most of this week. Lows are right around or just below freezing.


#5

Up here in Maine we can get some real cold snaps - extend single digit days and 30 below for a week or two. My location also gets lots (!!) of wind.
So I built some bee stands that I can fasten solid foam-board insulation onto on the North, West and East sides. This blocks the winds. I leave the South side open so it can get the sun. My hives are painted (gray, green) or natural dark wood (red cedar/tongue oil) all of which are good at getting warmed by the sun so I don’t wrap the hives. Wrapping is done by some of the folks up here, but they use 15lb felt paper which is waterproof but lets water vapor through. Nobody wraps with anything plastic or the silver bubble wrap insulation because it invites condensation in the hives. Condensation+cold = dead hives.
To help with the condensation problem inherent in the hive place some absorptive material above the hive bodies and below the telescoping cover. Homasote works and is cheap and popular in these parts. I made moisture quilts (like the Warre hives use) for my Langstroths. These use wood shavings to capture any moisture and have side vents to provide ventilation. I leave my screened bottom board (closed with the corex sheet in place) on and don’t switch to a solid bottom board. This makes sure there’s good ventilation from bottom to top (no moisture buildup). A mouse guard over the entrance completes the picture while a tie-down strap holds the hive snugly to the stand (things get light on the bottom over the winter and a good wind could tip it all over if it’s not tied together). So far, so good. Overwintering hives is possible, even up here in the cold country.

First Jan/Feb thaw, I put a 2 inch feed ring on between the top brood box and inner cover with fondant patties so the bees can stay well fed. Didn’t do that one year and the bees starved. They moved up on a couple warm days, used up the honey stores on one side of the hive, then couldn’t get to the stores on the other side when it got colder. Starved with full frames of honey just 3 frames away. Sad. Now with the fondant above their heads, they have enough to eat even if they end up on the wrong side of the hive from their honey stores.
Best of luck and hope for a live hive come spring!


#6

It is definitely windy where I live as well. We get gusts that blow over tractor trailers on the highway on a regular basis. We normally will get a week or two where the highs are in the negative Fahrenheit range. I have the moisture quilt covers on too. The entrances are only 1/2’ wide so I shouldn’t have any issues with mice. This will be my first winter so I am pretty confident that one hive will do well but the second hive did not have as much resources so I need to keep an eye on that one.


#7

Seattle WA: we have a hybrid Flow that we will store in our basement, leaving two brood boxes topped by one medium of honey to hopefully get our bees through the winter. Last two years the yellow-jackets wiped our both our hives in late fall :triumph: :frowning:️ Hoping that we do not have an extended yellow jacket season this year!
The first year I tried to vacumn them up, but ultimately a futile attempt as I could not patrol all day long: