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Fluff insulation or insulation board

I am winterizing my first hive, and I need some advice in what type of insulation to use. I am trying to decide on using the pink fiberglass housing insulation inside black contractor bags, or foam insulation board. I live in the Northeast US, where winters usually get down to 10-20°F with about 2 feet of snow on average. During the coldest part of winter, we might get subzero temperatures for a good week, around -10°F. I am going to do a quilt box (made of a medium box with a screened bottom and filled with pine shavings with a few screened ventilation holes in the sides), that sits on top of a shim to give the bees a top entrance for when the bottom entrance is covered by snow.

So, I am curious what people use for insulation in climates similar to mine. Also, is the gabled Flow roof just fine to leave on through winter?

Thanks, everyone!

Foam - use the 2 inch thick stuff. You don’t want fiberglass inside the hive or in your honey, and even those strong black bags can leak. :blush:

The gabled roof is fine. You could put some insulation underneath the shingles if you want. :wink:


Hi Dawn!

Would it make a difference if the insulation would be on the outside of the hive? I’ve seen people make kind of like pillow-looking things, with the insulation stuffed inside of the contractor bags, which are then strapped to the outside of the hive.

The boards sound way easier, either way. I think I was leaning more towards that route.

Thank you!

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Well, I am not a materials scientist, or an environmental hygienist… However, I have worked with fibreglass rolls a lot. They feel nice and soft and gentle, until later… :blush: If you put them around the outside of the hive, raccoons, possums and rodents could tear the plastic. So could weed-whackers, snowblowers and clumsy humans (like me!).

On a cleansing flight, a bee could then inadvertently pick some up and take it into the hive. I just wouldn’t risk it. However, I am well-known for being excessively cautious. :wink:


Cautious is my thing! Insulation boards it is :wink:

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I’m not qualified to advice, I’m only a beginner. I also have the opposite problem - I live in a super hot climate. Today, mid-spring here in Australia, is 41 celcius (106F).

I may have gone overboard, but I lined the inside of my gabled roof with 20 pieces of sandpaper cork blocks, like such:



I love that roof slide @HappyHibee Weeeee! :joy:

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A very appropriate question ErinNewbeeMama and the answer we all search out…as beekeepers have for decades. Initially I got the idea for my method of wintering by watching Beekeeping videos from Russia…and I don’t speak Russian…and have modified it for my conditions.

So here is a short video showing one of my hives in midwinter:

The single or double brood box is covered with a layer of foil bubble insulation. Two slits for the bees are made in the foil insulation (1/4" X 2") and a shallow/medium super (I call it the Russian rim) is placed on the foil insulation and a pillow stuffed in the Russian rim. As you can see, this pillow feature allows for feed to be placed in an area that is naturally heated by the bees…they can feed all winter long in this area…extra insurance.

But the real important reason for the pillow is to wick away moisture from down below where the broodnest is. For my conditions which are drier and colder than yours, those two small slits regulate warmth and humidity…you could likely use a bit larger slits.

The outside of the hive should be insulated…for your conditions I would start by wrapping the sides with foil insulation…it’s amazing stuff for as thin as it is as it reflects cold outwards and heat generated by the bees is reflected inwards.

Any system that you eventually use will require tweeking for your conditions…over several seasons…and just when you think you have it figured out, mother nature will throw you a curve ball…good luck!

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That looks like Rusty Burlew’s bee shelter! :blush: @ErinNewbeeMama

I can’t find the photo on her web site any more, but I do remember reading an article where she described construction that shelter. :wink:


Pic didn’t have an owner but I’m copying the style for our FlowHive site at work.

The one in the back garden patio is mine :call_me_hand:

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Here is is without the snow:


Love it. I’m looking to set up a cctv link into the onsite nursery for the kids to watch, study and inspire.

The nursery is called “Buzzy Bees” :honeybee::honeybee:

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Here’s a video by well known Canadian Beekeeper Ian Steppler bringing in his hives yesterday…he explains about the foil insulation and comments on the importance of moisture in the hive (spring time) and not in the hive (winter time) and how important a seal made by the foil insulation on the periphery upper edge of the brood box is for proper winter management…starts about the 4 minute mark.

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