Wondering if anyone has advice or input on whether or not it’s worth considering placing shelter around winterized hive to help shield it from winter weather? Thinking of bales of straw, ice hut, etc.
@Tim_Purdie is in your area and will pass on good advice, I like the idea of using hay bales, anything to keep out the cold wind will be a big benefit.
Cheers from sunny and sub-tropical Australia
Hey there my fellow Ontarian. I’m not sure what parts you are in, but I’m in Lasalle Ontario (near Windsor). I have used the black plastic insulated wraps a few winters on some of my colonies and left others without. I’ve not noticed a difference in colony survival or strength either way. I now choose not to wrap. I have my hives on stands that are about 24" off the ground which I think helps with keeping the freezing ground further away from the bottom of the hive and keeps skunks etc from terrorizing my colonies. I have a friend that uses hay bails as a wind break and I always wonder if he is asking for mice to move in to seek warmth and then they move to the hives for food and warmth. It has happened to him once, but he keeps using the hay bails. I’m in a somewhat sheltered from wind zone so I don’t have to worry about that. If I did, I would rather go to the hardware store (Canadian Tire/Homedepot) and pickup the fencing that is meant for garden permitters that is all black with steaks stitched in and put that where the prevailing wind direction is coming from. Since we get a lot of snow I always check the entrances are clear after a big snow fall-- I’ve been experimenting with upper entrances in case the lower entrances do get covered up but I’ve been thinking of eliminating upper entrances after watching a gentleman in NY area reason that in nature bees don’t have two entrances and like a small one overall. I am thinking he is right and probably will close off the upper entrances this season and since my hives are off the ground I don’t think I’ll have much of a problem that way but I will still monitor for blockage. What part of Ontario are you in?
Thank you so much for the reply. I am in Ottawa and this is my first season with a hive. I installed a nuc in late May and a second medium brood box a few weeks later. My bees filled the second medium box VERY quickly with pretty much all capped honey, so I added my flow super. About 3 weeks later, my hive swarmed. I did not requeen and have just taken off flow honey super that has remained empty, although I do smell beeswax on each flow frame. Medium brood box still full of honey…hopefully this, along with original 8 frame full brood box, will be enough to make it through winter? I have ordered the Wellington Winter wrap? I am planning on feeding bees through October/November and possibly adding fondant? Any advice is so welcomed and appreciated🙂
Exciting times @Wickedqueen! If your colony left a laying queen after the swarm left and you still see eggs/larvae then things are in good shape. I think your plan for leaving the medium honey super on is a good one, just make sure you don’t have a queen excluder between the deep and the medium so the bees can get up there. I would not think your bees would need additional feed for winter with a full medium in place, and likely they are backfilling any of the deep’s frames on the outer edges with honey/nectar/pollen right now. That is what to look for-- are there food resources in the deep brood box? Photos are always a great way to show us what you see. Your wrap will work well as a wind break, just don’t put it on too early as you create artificial temps which can lead to the bees eating more honey than they should be. Ottawa gets super cold weather so I understand why you want a wind break around your hives. For next year I would pop on a full deep as a second brood box and move the medium up one level, and once any brood in the medium moves down/out I would put the queen excluder on top. When the 2nd deep is built out then add your flow super. If you harvest the medium, take a golf ball size beeswax wad and smear it over the tops of the flow frames-- it encourages them to build the frames out faster than when you don’t do it. I would think by end of May you would be ready for the flow super if you put the 2nd deep on in the first week of April.