Winterizing The Hive. Cariboo, BC, Canada

Finally got around to winterizing the hive today. I built a feeder box that will take a quart jar and will use it to feed back some honey that I couldn’t use and when that’s gone will begin feeding the sugar/syrup mix. From what I’ve picked up here and other places I’ve been reading I think I made the girls snug and safe for the coming months. After draining the flow frames of most of the honey I left them in place so the bees could clean them up. In the meantime I did an oxalic acid vapour treatment. Hope you enjoy the pics and I very much appreciate any feedback or comments, thanks in advance!


Did you check what the stores were inside the brood box.
We need 40lbs to overwinter our bees in the UK but in some parts beekeepers aim for double that. I’m sure somebody from your neck of the woods will be along soon and will know.
I would replace the shavings with decent insulation. There isn’t much insulating value in those

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The shavings aren’t meant to work as insulation, but as a moisture-wicking material for climates where condensation is a problem. I just made a similar “hive quilt” yesterday using a shallow super - I’ll try to post pics & more description later.

But Dee, I see your point about insulation & had been wondering about that a bit myself…whether the added space on top filled with airy wood shavings could cause heat loss?!

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Hive quilt used for wicking. I learned this from Sergio, the Russian I’ve been dealing with/chatting with that developed that sound listening device for the bees. Very very cool, idea. I’ll be putting mine on in a few weeks.

Yesterday I moved a NUC into a standard box, with 2 pillows on each side of the frames inside the box. Sergio suggested I winter my bees this way so that when spring comes I’m not moving them again and can just remove one of the pillows on the side and add more frames.


Hi Dee I have about 5 quarts of honey for feeding back then will move to syrup. There are good stores inside the hives but not sure how much. The shavings provide pretty good insulation. I lived in a house that had wood shavings for insulation in the walls in -40 temps. We don’t get that anymore but that combined with the wrap should do the trick!? Another experienced beekeeper nearby doesn’t do anything at all to protect his bees over winter. He said he’s tried various things but in the end it made no difference…

Ah…I didn’t realise people got condensation between the top of the crown board and the roof.

Yes I know lots of beekeepers that like to keep their bees cold despite lots of scientific evidence that points to warm bees doing better.
A good tip for a beginner is to have the weights of their hive and components unoccupied and weigh the occupied hive enabling an estimate of stores.
Interesting about the wall insulation. Maybe the wood chips were packed tight in a thick layer. I have a friend who lives in a house made of lime rendered straw bales and that is toasty warm

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Ok Dee I reconsidered and bought a water heater blankie for the girls. Don’t want to take any chances in my first winter but dang it there goes another 50 bucks :wink:

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Good stuff. :clap:
You don’t need heat though just the insulation so take the supply off.
Next make sure the roof is OVER the insulation to stop rain getting between it and the hive walls.
Or…have I got it dead wrong and you’re powering a bear fence?


roof is OVER the insulation to stop rain getting between it and the hive walls.

Yes, great point Dee - the winter roof I will use does extend out to accommodate foam boards, but I thought about the sideways rain we do get sometimes & I like that water heater blankie, Ron.
I’m under the impression that too much warmth in winter can stimulate brood production too early - Dee is that why you say to take the supply off (assuming not to a bear fence :flushed:)

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What your insulation is trying to do is to keep heat loss to a minimum…not actually heat the hive.
There was a chap here,Jape, who got banned for being rude or something. He keeps bees in Finland and was full of wisdom when it wasn’t tainted by B******t and he actually has heat mats under the floors in early spring to get the brood going…but only in Spring and he has to keep an eye on pollen stores, maybe feed pollen sub too.

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Good, thanks for confirming that. Yup I remember jape :wink:

Yeah that’s a bear fence. I was away from the property for a couple of weeks and when I came back saw bear scat all around the hive! Don’t know why they didn’t bother it but I think it’s because they were harvesting the grapes along the fence line and were planning on the hive later. The first day I was back home there were two bears in the yard, one at either end of the property! Anyway I sped up my plans to get the electric fence up.

I was expecting someone to mention about the roof OVER the insulation, thanks. Saw that after I posted the picture and the old brain kicked in.

As for heat, I was wondering about using hand warmers as a heat source if it seemed necessary. I would place a couple under the screened bottom board. They are a very mild heat and last for a few hours (and cheap).

A better thing is a mains powered reptile mat and then only in the spring. You don’t want intermittent heat. Also you don’t want them flying when there is nothing to forage on.


you could possibly run a few of these off your solar fence set up:

next winter I am going to experiment with mild solar heating…

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Hi Semaphore,
The solar fencer uses a pulsed current so wouldn’t work for that but a solar panel would, with a battery attached to regulate the output.

I imagine those heat pads are not designed to get really hot- and they are so cheap- combined with a small panel, and a battery it seems like a doable solar heating system for hives… I am looking forward to playing around with the idea in winter. Not that we need it where I am- we have no snow or frost- very mild winters. But I like to tinker- and I know for myself on those 5 c nights - I like a heater.

Update: My bees died over winter. I can not recommend this winter set-up.

I’m in the process of winterizing my hive for the first time. My bees will be on their own unattended Nov - Mar. Our high temps are moving into the 50’s and low’s into the 30’s. zip 83612 will show my average temperatures. We can get up to 3 ft of snow.
This summer I wove a wind break around the north and south corners of the hive.
I made a deep winter telescoping roof to shelter their upper entrance.
Under the roof is an insulated vented cover with small hole in center they can propolis if they don’t want it.
Next is the upper entrance (left underside front edge of box above) on another insulated cover.
Next are 4 sugar cakes because 6-8 frames out of 16 deep frames not drawn and I don’t want them to starve. I did not take any honey and fed about 50 lbs of sugar (2 to 1 syrup) this season.
Next spring I plan to get them to fill a medium super full of capped honey and save it for winter feed instead of the sugar cakes. Figure any unused sugar cakes will keep.
This top cake is on a slatted rack, but my other 3 cakes are on screen with 3/4" gap on front and back.
I’ve been back and forth on whether to close the screened bottom and think I am going to close and insulate it. With it closed and insulated they have moved down filling the space between the bottom slatted rack and screen with many more outside the hive piling up and coming and going at the entrance. Expect they will move up when temps get much colder.
At the last minute have decided to double bubble insulation wrap the hive. Will be wrapping them tomorrow.
I am concerned about humidity, but recently read higher humidity might limit varroa reproduction from
I’m looking for feedback on my setup. Am I setting them up to fail? Am I closing off too much ventilation? Am I promoting too much humidity and carbon dioxide?

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Wrapped for winter. Departing tomorrow for 5 months. Very nervous about leaving my precious hive. Hoping to come home to find my girls alive and doing well.

Question: Is it advised to raise the front of the Flowhive for water collecting on the inserted bottom board to find it’s way out the back?

I’m concerned about seeing so much water collecting on the bottom board, since I added it.

Wondering if a bottom board could be designed that has little drip holes similar to what we find in window sills.

Question: Is 2 1/2 mouse guard holes at the front entrance enough ventilation from the bottom? Should this opening be in the center or does it matter?

I reduced both inner cover holes to a 29/64 drill bit size. Hoping this is large enough to draw moisture out the vents in the vented cover and through the top entrance; and small enough not to create a cold wind tunnel. Maybe I shouldn’t worry about these top holes because they are small enough for them to block with propolis, if they choose.

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Hi Geesbees, being a newbie I can’t answer any of your questions with any authority so I hope someone else chimes in before you leave on your trip. I too am concerned about moisture. My setup is more ‘rustic’ than yours and I am feeding my bees through a quart jar that I set into the top box. They are gobbling that honey down (I saved several quarts for feeding back when I drained the flowhive for winter). The first quart took two weeks and the second quart took one week -or less as I only check it once a week and it’s empty.

I also have a concern about moisture buildup. I don’t have any upper ventilation strategy and I seem to be getting a lot of moisture on the bottom board. I also found over 30 dead bees on the landing board this week and that is more than i’ve ever seen. Could this be caused by too much moisture or is it a normal culling process? I’m in central BC and out temps have dipped to freezing at night and a few degrees above through the days.

Hope some experienced Beezers will provide insight, thanks!

Here’s a pic of my bottom board that I just pulled out. It had a lot of moisture on it, like a puddle! I’m also wondering about the number of varroa. I treated for varroa over a month ago using vaporized oxalic acid and did two treatments one week apart. I then had to go away for three weeks and when I got back did another treatment and got a lot of varroa on the bottom board so I followed up with another treatment one week later (last week) and will treat one more time this week.

The picture attached is what the bottom board looks like one week after the second treatment since I returned and you can see that there are quite a few mites still being shed and you can also see some of the moisture I’m talking about.

What should I do…? Do I need to put ventilation in the top of the hive? Is this a normal varroa drop at this stage? -seems like a lot