How to wrap the hive in winter? Do I need a new upper entrance?

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john1 

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Hi,
What should I use to wrap around the hive?

Do I need to make an upper entrance for the bees instead of the bottom entrance? If so, should I completely close the bottom entrance and make an upper entrance?
How do people make upper entrance?
Thanks,
 

Boston Bees 

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Hi,
What should I use to wrap around the hive?

Do I need to make an upper entrance for the bees instead of the bottom entrance? If so, should I completely close the bottom entrance and make an upper entrance?
How do people make upper entrance?
Thanks,
You don't need to change the entrance for winter. Indeed, you definitely shouldn't. All an upper entrance would do is let heat out.

Wrapping is another matter - if you use poly hives like I do, you don't need to - if you use wooden hives you may choose to, and no doubt some examples will be provided by people who do this.
 

Boston Bees 

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jenkinsbrynmair 

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Hi,
What should I use to wrap around the hive?

Do I need to make an upper entrance for the bees instead of the bottom entrance? If so, should I completely close the bottom entrance and make an upper entrance?
How do people make upper entrance?
Thanks,
Nothing
No (doubled)
and
they don't
 

john1 

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jenkinsbrynmair 

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I can see people using Recticel Insulation board to cover outside and top of the hive -
some do, not that many, you will be fine with just a piece of 50mm reticel fixed inside the hive roof, or at least just cut to the dimensions of the crown board and placed directly on it then covered by the roof.
 

Gilberdyke John 

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some do, not that many, you will be fine with just a piece of 50mm reticel fixed inside the hive roof, or at least just cut to the dimensions of the crown board and placed directly on it then covered by the roof.
I know new beekeepers regularly fret a lot about their colonies but reading some of the questions that are appearing from various newbies it does seem to demonstrate a lot of half researched matters coupled with possibly poor training or mentoring. I think COVID isolation restrictions have created a lot of problems whereby new beekeepers would ordinarily have attended a series of practical sessions throughout the spring/summer/autumn. Toolbox chats mixed in with these sessions ordinarily cover most of the items that are fuelling many of the questions being asked. Hopefully next year will be isolation free🤔 safe distancing I can live with.
 

ericbeaumont 

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What should I use to wrap around the hive?

Do I need to make an upper entrance for the bees instead of the bottom entrance? If so, should I completely close the bottom entrance and make an upper entrance?
How do people make upper entrance
As JBM suggested: none of the above (apart from insulating inside the roof).

Best wintering for bees is bees, and plenty of them.

Ideally, bees would fill the box; if not, the box should be smaller - a nuc box - to match the size of nest.
 

elainemary 

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As JBM suggested: none of the above (apart from insulating inside the roof).

Best wintering for bees is bees, and plenty of them.

Ideally, bees would fill the box; if not, the box should be smaller - a nuc box - to match the size of nest.
I agree Eric most of mine are packed with bees and it’s something I’ve learnt last couple of seasons big colonies come out of winter well. However, I noticed one of mine has become much smaller. It was a Nuc I united to a failed supersedure queenless colony in September and started the winter a decent size. Need to get a torch and look down the frames to see if their nest shape means the bees are hidden from view from the top bars.

If the nest is small, it’s too cold now to move frames out or put in a Nuc. They’re in a Wbc with kingspan on top of the crownboard. Configuration is brood box with a super nadired below, from cappings dropped they’ve moved stores up.

So plenty of food and treated for varroa. Anything else I should do? It’s forecast to warm to 10c tomorrow (probably 8c here). Was wondering whether to put fondant over the cluster, as if small might struggle to move to food. Or should I leave to nature if queen failure, or lack of winter bees is the root of the problem…?

Appreciate your thoughts / advice
Elaine
 

Boston Bees 

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I agree Eric most of mine are packed with bees and it’s something I’ve learnt last couple of seasons big colonies come out of winter well. However, I noticed one of mine has become much smaller. It was a Nuc I united to a failed supersedure queenless colony in September and started the winter a decent size. Need to get a torch and look down the frames to see if their nest shape means the bees are hidden from view from the top bars.

If the nest is small, it’s too cold now to move frames out or put in a Nuc. They’re in a Wbc with kingspan on top of the crownboard. Configuration is brood box with a super nadired below, from cappings dropped they’ve moved stores up.

So plenty of food and treated for varroa. Anything else I should do? It’s forecast to warm to 10c tomorrow (probably 8c here). Was wondering whether to put fondant over the cluster, as if small might struggle to move to food. Or should I leave to nature if queen failure, or lack of winter bees is the root of the problem…?

Appreciate your thoughts / advice
Elaine
When did you nadir the super, and how much food was in the brood box at last inspection?

If you have put their food at the bottom of the hive, you wouldn't be too surprised that you can't see the bees from the top bars, presumably?
 
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elainemary 

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When did you nadir the super, and how much food was in the brood box at last inspection?

If you have put their food at the bottom of the hive, you wouldn't be too surprised that you can't see the bees from the top bars, presumably?
Hi I nadir in September and usually they bring up pretty quickly especially when mild. It’s been mild here right to Nov -only turned cold in last week. Together with syrup top up to brood box in sept they have 40lb stores. I need to look down the frames with a torch as you’re right sometimes they can be below. Just got a hunch they’re small though.
 

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noticed one of mine has become much smaller. It was a Nuc I united to a failed supersedure queenless colony in September and started the winter a decent size
Got a few like that.

They start out a decent size but underlying issues lead to a lag in bee production that cannot be undone. Maybe a poor queen off lay for too long, or failing to start laying. Every year I tell myself to be more ruthless with autumn stock, because it's no fun cleaning out the dead in spring.

One was in a BB in June and under-performing; had the hopeful idea it was too shaded, so put it in a nuc box and moved it into sun; later it looked good so back it went into a BB, after which it slowed down and is likely to fail. Why the hell didn't I put a boot on the queen in June and unite?

Just got a hunch they’re small though.
I know the feeling, but small colonies can surprise, given a break here or there. I've put small BB colonies into nucs in November and January before, and they perked up to full strength by April. A lot depends on the queen - colonies with young queens overwinter better, as well as those with low varroa, top insulation and stores.
 

elainemary 

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Got a few like that.

They start out a decent size but underlying issues lead to a lag in bee production that cannot be undone. Maybe a poor queen off lay for too long, or failing to start laying. Every year I tell myself to be more ruthless with autumn stock, because it's no fun cleaning out the dead in spring.

One was in a BB in June and under-performing; had the hopeful idea it was too shaded, so put it in a nuc box and moved it into sun; later it looked good so back it went into a BB, after which it slowed down and is likely to fail. Why the hell didn't I put a boot on the queen in June and unite?


I know the feeling, but small colonies can surprise, given a break here or there. I've put small BB colonies into nucs in November and January before, and they perked up to full strength by April. A lot depends on the queen - colonies with young queens overwinter better, as well as those with low varroa, top insulation and stores.
Thanks Eric. I decided to save this queen (blue) as her bees are lovely and calm as well as good honey gatherers. Thought by putting her into a Nuc I could use her as a breeder next year, as she was slowing down a bit.
Ended up uniting into a full BB as I felt at the time it was the best option. Live and learn. Think I’ll leave alone til spring and see what happens.
Don’t like the thought of disturbing them and putting back into a Nuc up here in the Pennines.
 

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