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Winterizing New Hive, New Beekeeper Questions


Hello Everyone,

I just started beekeeping this year with the help of a friend who got me started. He has fallen ill and I don’t want to bother him at this time, so I’m looking for some help with some questions.

Background- I live in Southern Ontario, Canada and our winters can be very snowy and hit lows of -20 c. Started my hive from a nuc. this spring. The bees are thriving and I didn’t harvest honey because it’s there first year and I wanted to build the colony. Flow Supers are not on, it’s just the brood box at this time. 7.5 of 8 frames are full of honey and brood with the outer two not quite built up with comb yet. I did a mite away treatment in the fall. And I have just mouse guarded the hive, raised it, and tilted it slightly for winter. I plan to insulate it with wrap for winter. My questions:

  1. Should I pack the sides with sawdust or something bc the outer two frames are empty?
  2. Can I make a feeder board for sugar and put a quilt board on top for insulation?
  3. If so, Should I drill holes on the side of the quilt board for insulation?
  4. When do I wrap the outside?
  5. When do I put the feeder board in?

Thanks in advance for taking the time to answer my questions!



I’ve never overwintered a hive at that low temps so can’t help with feeding as I aim to get my hives winter weight with no supplemental feeding at all once winter comes.
Insulation. If it was my hive I would insulate the whole thing with that foil backed insulation that’s used for house. 50mm all round and 100mm on top with your corflute moved to the lower position allowing the bees to ventilate the hive. You won’t get condensation in a well insulated hive.

If the outer frames are empty then they do not have enough food.
I might put candy on now or sugar but not syrup…


Thanks Dee. That was very helpful. I will start to feed them sugar now then and insulate the way you suggested. Thanks!


Forgot to mention…obviously you need to take the pointy roof off. Are you feeding in a shim or an extra super? Might be an idea to fill the empty space round the feed with insulation too.
Cut a piece of insulation to match the size of the top board and put it on top of whatever you are feeding in. Then the whole cover. I made mine with about a cm gap all round and I used wooden barbecue sticks to stabilise the box…pushed through the joints and then cut off, then covered the joints in aluminium foil tape. It will last you years if you paint it.

Good luck and tell us how you get on.
You might want to look at Michael Palmer’s videos on wintering hives if your climate is at all similar. He lives in Vermont.


Great video Dee. Tho I don’t live in Canada, I do live at 8,000ft so have to learn from others like those in Vermont and Canada. Since my nuc did not fill out more that one brooder box, leaving the 2 outer frames unfilled and we are going into winter, I’m using this to feed my bees - http://www.brushymountainbeefarm.com/8-Frm-Wintering-Inner-Cover/productinfo/W254IC/ - along with the suggested sugar/pollen candy recipe that fills this 2" inner cover. I need to take a picture of the bees having found it and eating it. With only one brood box high for this winter, I’m thinking I’m going to need to keep making this feed all winter and into Spring till the flowers take off. I was hoping for 2 boxes high. I’m also now thinking I should do the roofing felt wrap - and maybe put the foil insulation just on the back and under the wrap.