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Upper Class Bees with seasonal accommodations. :)


Here in the Northeast USA I want my hives subjected to the cold; not bitter cold but 20-40 deg. F this way they don’t stay too active and consume all of their winter stores.

Those are some really nice boxes and would make great wind breaks!


I think the girls did extra well over the winter because of the better
insulation. They were able to save some energy and put it into thriving
rather than surviving.


And yet there is evidence that well insulated colonies use less food over winter because they don’t have to eat too much to maintain hive temperature


Yep, there is a sweet spot if you will between temperature ranges. The only evidence I have is my bee-yards in Southern NJ.


An observation for first time over-winterers in cold weather:
Last winter on a sunny day it got over 50 F after a prolonged bitter cold snap in the single digits and teens and I noticed all but 2 hives had cleansing flights. They were smaller colonies going into winter so I went into these hives and saw the queens and all the bees frozen in a cluster. Their fondant patty was never touched, so I declared them dead. I took the frames out and leaned them against the hive body in the direct sunlight. Moments later I saw bees moving and the longer I watched the more bees I saw moving. These bees weren’t dead and these two hives survived last winter just fine.
I then read a thread on the Beesource Forum titled, “Bees aren’t dead until they are warm and dead.”


Just like any hypothermia victim.
I don’t miss those winters and wouldn’t want to worry about my bees
surviving the winter. Not sure why humans decided to live in those
conditions? I always figured when settlers were riding along in their
wagons wouldn’t their wives say “nope not here dumbass keep heading South”


You and me both. It had to be Spring when my ancestors settled here!

How cold does it get where you are?


And by the time they figured it out it was too late.
We occasionally get 36 (Yankee temp :wink: in the dead of winter, and I find
that a bit chilly. But summer temps can be over 110F but thats rare. For
the most part it’s pretty comfortable.


At 36 I’m in the garden planning my strategy lol!

I wonder if those boxes you made would help during the intense heat?


They worked well last summer, I saw less bearding within a few days of
changing from the 3/4" boxes to the thick ones. Cedar is pretty light and
has great insulating properties compared to most other softwood.
The other thing that really helped was the added roofing. I will take off
the black metal roof sheet when the temperature starts to get up around
30C. Right now it helps absorb heat, keeps the wooden roof dry and gets the
girls working a bit earlier in the day. I believe if I can help them save
any energy, even say if it was quantifiable at .005% per day…that’s
exponential and can be the difference between a healthy hive and dead hive.


I’m in love… with your hives! :blush:

They have to be about the most beautiful I have ever seen. You should win an award of some sort for aesthetics. Incredible. :grin:


Thanks Dawn, appreciate the praise…my head doesn’t need to swell anymore

I have been thinking about making a few more. Just don’t what they would be
worth as they do take more time than a conventional hive.



Just like poly hives


But a heck of a lot prettier :slight_smile:


Not to take it off topic, but do you have a link to the poly hive you use? Do you use paradise?


I did but I don’t like the lip on the boxes. It’s good for stability but rubbish for sliding the boxes together. Now my polys are Swienty


It’s interesting, if you read Warre’s book he argues the counter. His contention is that if you keep the bees warm they will stay active for longer and as a result consume more stores over winter. He argues that thinner hive walls cause the bees to cluster sooner due to the cold and as a result conserve energy/stores as they aren’t as active.

Not saying I agree with Warre, but though it was worth mentioning.

Here is the quote from the English translation.

Furthermore, the insulating walls do not achieve their aim. In spring they delay the bees foraging
sorties. In winter they do not economise on stores. On the contrary, the bees consume less when they
are torpid with cold than when they are kept active.


It probably had some merit depending on your climate. There are very few
days through the winter when they are not foraging.


This is from a paper by Derek Mitchell who has done thermodynamic studies on bees

Q. Don’t bees use more energy when they are active? Colonies which are very well insulated don’t seem to cluster in winter – surely they will use up their stores too quickly?

A. No, they don’t use more energy. This is a misconception based on experiments on metabolic rate where bees were held in air at controlled temperatures. If they can warm the hive to a comfortable point, they don’t need much energy to stay alive – so the key is to provide an environment which they can warm at minimum cost. A well insulated cavity, in other words

The paper is on Springer so you have to pay for it but there is a taste of it here


Great response Dee, I will add it to my arsenal for the next time I run into a dogmatic Warre owner :wink:

It’s unfortunate it’s locked away but the link has an excellent summary, thanks! Do you have a link to where the source can be purchased?