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The SBB and Core Flute - Insulation and Winter- some Questions


We have just done our last inspection before the full onset of winter. I thought I should move the coreflute to the top slot so as to keep the hive warmer… However I really don’t like doing this: when you look under the hive you can see a vast multitude of bee feet sticking through the mesh perhaps as much as 2mm at times. When you slide the flute in it sits very tight up to the mesh- and I fear it acts like a guillotine lopping off millions of bee feet? For this reason I push it in as slow as I can- and also do not want to remove for inspection/cleaning it as often as I would if it was in the bottom slot.

So then today I started reading around about hive ventilation- and wintering hives and I found an interesting article about screened bottoms. The author recommends them -not necessarily with a core flute- just open so that whatever the bees push down- falls right out of the hive. The author also states that this open bottom is not a problem in terms of lost heat if the top of the hive is nicely sealed an insulated- and that hives with open bottoms do better than those without even in the Australian snow country…

here’s the article:


The article also recommends insulating the top cover.

We have relatively mild winters in South Australia- my plan now is to put the coreflute back into the bottom slot- reduce the hive entrance- and place some sort of insulating material on top of the inner cover- maybe an old blanket.

Insulating the inner covers seems to be a good idea to decrease condensation forming on the lid due to the inside/outside temperature differential…

What do you think? I’d love to know.


Nice article by Rusty Burlew here, telling you how to build a condensation quilt for a Langstroth hive. It looks very easy, if you can get your hands on a very shallow box - 5 to 10 cm deep is plenty deep enough:

If you can’t get hardware cloth to cover the holes, fly screen would be fine.

As far as the core flute goes, I think it would be fine to leave it in the bottom slot. If you are worried about howling winds making a draft through the gap at the back of the hive, a simple strip of duct tape could solve that. :wink: If you ever wanted to slide it into the upper slot, a puff of smoke under the screen might encourage the bees to get out of the way, then just slide it in very slowly.


Hi Michelle, it all reads well. I don’t think you can go wrong with the plan you laid out. I’ve never used a SBB nor a quilt. The vinyl mat I place over my top frames seems to work well for me. I’m in S.E. Qld., so what works for me might not necessarily work for you down there.


Regarding the ventilation bottom, I see what the author is talking about seeing that heat rises. You could leave the board on the bottom setting and event tape up the opening, this will be good for SHB as I believe they catch better on the floor than up top sp you can utilise a oil tray etc.

For top insulation, I have obtained fruit box poly styrofoam (about 2cm thick) and just cut it to fit as snug as a bug in a rug. You can get these foam box’s for nix from your local greengrocer. It works a treat. You can even cut it to fit on top of the roof board. I also see that Bunnings sell a good quality poly foam board, loks much better than the fruit box but I am more than happy with the fruit box option.


We are running a single brood box- and currently there are so many bees in it I don’t know where they could go if you tried to smoke them up. Every frame is completely covered in bees and many, many more always at the bottom. It seems there is really no reason to ever put it in the top slot in a mild climate? Would everyone agree?


Very good point. Scratch that! :blush:


Hi Jeff.

Any chance you could explain the vinyl mat over the frames in a little more depth for me?


I think he just means a hive mat- we use one too. Here’s some info:


I don’t use them ever. I like to keep the gusty winter winds out but its mainly in summer I worry about. In the hot weather the bees work hard to cool their hives. The cool, denser air just flows right out the bottom with an SBB. They get to do all that work with no benefit. As for winter the cold winds easily get up into the hive and reduce the temperature as well. Bees do really well with a solid bottom board and an insulated quilt top IMO.



I am ordering a quilt box. We have very high humidity in San Francisco during the cold weather. I want one that is cedar to match my Flow hive. Mark makes it just how I would if I was making it myself. He quoted me $45 us.

Mark Schilling
(250) 802-3991


G’day Paul, my vinyl mat, a piece of floor vinyl sits on top of the frames. It has bee space all around. It stops bees building comb up onto the lid. My lids are migratory with a 40-50mm bee space. The bee space helps me monitor the bees population so I know when to exercise swarm control measures.

I can’t get my head around an open mesh floor during winter, but apparently it works according to the ABK.

I don’t think I’d like to live in a house built for floor boards with no floor boards attached during winter. Even if the floor boards were replaced with strong open mesh to walk on, I just wouldn’t like it.


Hi Michelle, you’ll find that if you smoke the bees, they will make room to go up & eat honey. If your hive is that full of bees & you don’t want to add another super because of seasonal reasons, I’d advise using a lid with a bee space in conjunction with a vinyl mat like I explained to @Hocking8450 Paul.


A vinyl mat over the top of the brood box is also meant to stop the bees building unwanted messy burr comb up there in that extra space.

Correct me anyone if I am wrong as I am still learning. In fact, I am not a bee keeper, just a bee hive keeper - waiting for our spring to arrive.


Hi Max, yes that’s correct.

A lot of people don’t agree with this idea, however I like the idea that SHB get corralled between the top bars & the mat, that’s provided the mat is sitting snug over the frames.

I was able to assist some phd students the other day, they were seeking lots of live beetles for some experiments they are conducting at the USC. Under the mats proved to be quite fruitful for their needs.


Thanks Jeff. But do you leave the vinyl mat in all year or is it something you do for the colder months? With the flow hive they supply another timber board with a hole in the middle, do you leave that in or have you removed it? Currently I have left it in.


yes that stays on all the time- probably with the hole covered.


I am sure that @JeffH will speak for himself, but I believe he uses migratory covers (roofs), so I don’t think he needs the inner cover (“timber board with a hole in the middle”). Many people who use migratory covers don’t use an inner cover, but the vinyl mat helps to stop the bees from propolis-and-comb-gluing the roof to the frames. A side benefit for Jeff is the extra SHB trapping that he gets with the vinyl mat.


Hi Paul, I leave the mat on all year. I don’t have a flow hive. If I did, I’d use a vinyl mat & migratory lid. Also I’d alter the floor to a solid floor with a couple of drain holes on the lower end. Also I’d use all foundation in the brood.