I have spoken to my local beekeepers, however I find that like on here, everyone I speak to has a slightly different opinion (or completely opposite opinion!!)
Here is what I’m planning on doing and I’d like those of you that have kept bees in cold weather (as in, it gets colder than -20 C where you are at times) to let me know what you think. I’ve asked the same of my local beekeeping facebook group so I can have input from all sides. The more knowledge I have, the better decision I can hopefully make right!?
We have had lots in bloom the last few weeks, and I’ve noticed the bees out on quite a few of the flowers still. We didn’t get any honey in our flow hive this year, and are leaving all honey in the brood boxes for the bees. We went foundationless and we had to cut out a lot of wonky comb in mid August but have decided at this point we should leave it or they won’t have enough for the winter. We also have an entire frame space filled with free form comb, very cool looking but at this point I assume I should correct that next spring, because it is filled with honey and pollen.
I’m planning on putting the 1:1 sugar feeder into the empty super and putting it on top of the two brood boxes. This will only last for a few weeks because then we will drop below freezing. At that point I will remove it. Here I’ve been told we use either raw sugar or fondant to feed in the winter. I’ll then be putting fondant on the top board for them to have with a pollen patty. This way when I check that they have enough I only have to crack the hive slightly.
After reading about the dangers of condensation in the cold weather, I’m considering drilling a hole in the top of the flow hive roof for them to have more ventilation and a top entrance. Not big enough for mice, but large enough to ventilate. I was then going to loosely wrap silver insulated bubble wrap around the hive, and ensure that we keep the entrances clear for the winter. The hive is already situated in a wind protected area. I’ll anchor it though to ensure it doesn’t tip over during our crazy winter storms!
I’ll check on warmer days to ensure the fondant and pollen are still there, and top up as needed. Then I’ll cross my fingers and hope that all is well when we open them back up in the Spring! Maybe listen a few times with my stethoscope to see what I can hear.
From talking to local beekeepers up here, it sounds as though its fairly hit and miss with getting them through. Currently we have no snow on the ground, but the temperatures overnight are starting to dip. Bees are still out and about during the day though in about +10-15 C.
So I’d love to hear comments, criticisms etc. I have done my research, I have talked to locals. But quite honestly I still don’t feel 100%. Or maybe that’s how we all feel with wintering!?