Saturday, November 9, 2013
Part 1 – Exterior Winter Prep
The hubster has done it again. I’ve been agonizing over our plan for winter prep. Exterior windbreakers are half of the plan. Hay bales are popular, wrapping hives with roofing paper or cardboard, etc. Lots of ideas out there, but the consensus on wrapping, at least in our area, is that although it keeps the heat in and protects from the wind,wrapping also keeps the moisture in and prevents the hives from “breathing”. Dripping condensation and moisture will kill the bees, especially during freezing temperatures. So good ventilation is imperative.
We decided against wrapping and opted for barriers that would envelop three sides, leaving the fronts of the hives open so the girls can come and go as the temperatures fluctuate. The hubster came up with wooden frames that wrap around the outside of the hives, leaving air space between the frames and the hive boxes for circulation, while protecting the hives from wind. The outside of the frames are lined with black roofing paper to retain heat from the sun. The bottoms are anchored to the ground with large railroad nails, and the tops are open to allow easy access into the hives. The bees don’t mind them one bit (always a plus), access is much easier than if they’d been wrapped, and we can reuse the frames year after year.
I confess that having only a few hives does afford the luxury of experimenting with more elaborate solutions like this. And it helps to have a woodworker in the house.
As for the inside, they’re ok for now, but after more research, I believe I have a simple and effective solution figured out. So stay tuned for ideas on how to configure the insides of your hives for winter.