Hello and looking for other "arctic" bees

Hello out there! My name is Kelly. The flow hive will be my first hive. I’ve been considering getting bees for quite some time, but we also weren’t settled anywhere long enough for me to feel comfortable starting. Recently my husband and I decided we would settle in Alaska’s interior (where we have been for the past two years). A little after making that decision and deciding I would start a hive in the 2016 season we found the flow hive and he was amazing enough to order one for me.

I just wanted to say hello, would love any advice and info any of you more experienced beekeepers have to share, and would love to find some beekeepers that deal with colder and more extreme temperatures. I’ve been doing a lot of research into the creation/ breeding of bees that can survive an alaskan winter and I know other areas must have similar challenges. :smile:

1 Like

I would recommend using polystyrene hives. I live in Cleveland where the temperature drops to -15 below zero fahrenheit, with -30 zero wind chill. My bees that were in wooden hives froze to death while my bees that were in polystyrene came through the winter just fine. Also make sure that your hives are in a sunny spot sheltered from the wind. Some of the European beekeepers build houses for their bees:bienenhaus

1 Like

I take my hat off to you, its a courageous decision to live in Alaska let alone keep bees up there. You’ll certainly need to call on the experienced beekeepers from Canada and North America.

Thank you both. I’ll have to look into the polystyrene hives @pbrutz. @Rodderick, it isn’t that courageous - just a lot of fun. the winters and summers are both amazing and there is so much to do. Everything thrives and grows so much in the summer and in the winter we have tons of other activities and things like the aurora that make it all worth it.

1 Like

Well in that case, don’t be shy is sharing your experiences, we would love to hear from you about your life in Alaska.

You may want to read the thread on how to keep bears out of bee hives.

1 Like

A bit of a late reply but I bought a product from a Canadian company called NOD, Nature By Design, that makes a wrap called a Bee Cozy which is insulated in a black plastic wrap that can be bought in one or two story sizes for your brood boxes. If you buy from them direct you need to buy at least 4 Cozy’s for them to ship to you or if less they can supply you with distributors which I believe most are in the US. There is a good video on youtube where the Cozy’s are being applied on an urban hive on a Toronto rooftop.


I’m from Mentor…a fellow Clevelander. I was thinking about getting some styrene hives, so its nice to know they did well in the winter.

Hello Kelly,
I am a beekeeper in Anchorage and lived in Fairbanks for about 17 years. I know plenty of people keep bees up in Fairbanks. I use the Beemax Styrofoam hives and they have worked well for me. This is my first year overwintering, so I don’t have any advice. I would recommend you check with the local bee club up there.

I mainly wanted to reply to let you know about a project that is going on here in Anchorage. A gentleman from Wales has a PhD in Entomology recently moved to Anchorage. Back in the U.K he was part of a 5+ year project to breed a bee suited to this particular valley in Wales. He is now recruiting beekeepers for a similar project in Alaska. I have been to a couple of meetings and heard him speak. He is a big reason I finally decided to try overwintering. I can’t recall his name off the top of my head, but I have it in my notebook at home. Let me know if you would like more information about his project.



Have you any more information? I’d love to know more.
I live in a Welsh valley and have friends in Sweden and Finland who successfully overwinter their bees in poly boxes.

I found the information. His name is Ian Williams and the website is Alaska Bee Initiative

He is affiliated with the Alaska Bee Club which has a strong stance on Treatment Free Beekeeping and Small Cell Beekeeping. I don’t think those are bad ideas, I just don’t have a strong opinion about it.

1 Like

Thanks Matt, I’ll take a look.
I found this earlier…perhaps it might become a thing of the past?

Most beekeepers in Alaska kill their colonies with chemicals or soapy water after the brief summer honey harvest because keeping them alive through the winter is so difficult. Come spring, they send away for fresh bees from northern California, where many large-scale commercial beekeepers are based.

1 Like

You can find more about the project in Wales here:
West Wales Breeding Project

Hope it helps.

I know I’m late in answering, but thanks for the comment and support. I started off by contacting the ABI last year before my husband ordered my hive and I just went to the symposium in anchorage. I also plan on ordering local bees from Keith if I can. I’m very excited to have found a small group of people who are trying to winter bees up here and are succeeding. :smiley:

1 Like

It isn’t- sadly that is still pretty common place from talking to people :frowning: but there are more and more trying to winter bees :smiley:

I was also at the symposium. It would have been great to meet. Or perhaps we did when hanging out in the lobby. I really enjoyed the presentations by Michael Bush and I thought the guy from Anarchy Apiaries gave a real fun presentation.

I agree that sadly it is pretty commonplace for people to kill there bees. I think that is starting to change, especially with the increase in price.


Do you know how the climate in Anchorage compares to that in Finland. I know the summers are short and the winters cold but beekeepers overwinter their bees quite successfully in poly hives

I don’t know for sure. I suspect they are similar. Through my work I think there is some crossover in reindeer herding techniques and husbandry. At least I know a person who travel from Finland and works with the Alaska Native reindeer herder here. Which doesn’t necessarily translate to anything with beekeeping, but from talking to her, I think parts of Finland are closer in climate to Barrow than Anchorage, but other areas are quite similar.

I live in south Anchorage and am a first year beekeeper. I have a flow hive and am hoping to overwinter my bees. I don’t believe I would be a prudent bee keeper if I didn’t make a valiant effort!
My neighbor has traditional hives and has not had luck overwintering. I missed the symposium unfortunately.
Matt, thanks for the information about Ian Williams and the ABI.

I installed the bees April 30th and as it was cold here I wrapped the hive in foam board and placed a piece under the roof on top of the feeder. As the days warmed I removed this during the day and replaced it at night. I am curious instead of using a styrofoam hive if wrapping the wooden brood box with foam board would work?

Looking forward to discussions on wintering bees.

How about keeping your bees in a Poly Lang?
The flow super is on only for a few months, anyway. The brood box could be poly, with extra insulation on top. Look to Finnish beekeepers. they all use poly hives.

1 Like