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Loubee 

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I'm up in the Shropshire Hills and last year I lost a colony in winter - they died on full stores. It was heartbreaking cleaning them out. A committee member of my local association said that they had had reports of a number of colonies in the uplands that froze on the frames, not waking to feed and dying attached to the frames with stores on.
A neighbour, (OK about 3 miles away down the hill), put straw bales round his hives last year and they all survived the winter, (up here, before the snow, we had 3 inch thick ice in Nov, then snow Dec to late March - Brrrr!) A close neighbour keeps goats which go near my hives. The hives are fenced off, but I am worried that if I put straw round, the goats will eat it & knock the hives over. I am going to put hessian over my hives & entrances to try to keep the snow off, but is it wise to put bubble wrap round 3 sides as I've had suggested, or will it make the hives not breathe. We are 350 metres above sea level & the snow can get to over the bonnet of a Land rover discovery. Any ideas on how to keep the girls warm enough & snow free?
 

oliver90owner 

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I am wondering how you over-wintered your bees? Solid floors or OMFs? Top ventilation arrangements? Any form of insulation fitted? Just the brood or a super of stores?

RAB
 
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My Canadian friend (Nova Scocia) takes his bees into the cellar under his house, where the temp is cold but stable and DRY,... it is a huge house!!!
This is done at the first sign of snow, the bees are in commercials (big Nationals?) entrances are meshed off and open floors closed down.
Pretty sure that he gives them a super full of stores, but their supers are bigger.
He is in Japan at the moment, but when he returns I will ask him what exactly he does
 

Finman 

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Any idea? ... No ideas

i have nursed bees here in Finland 63-15 = 48 years. ..is it so much! Good lord.

We have every year snow 3-4 months.

Wraping the hive inside the plastic keeps the hive wet and the wood will rotten fast.

You surely not need cellar to overwinter hives in UK.

We use here insulated brood boxes and they do not need here more protection. The most important thing is locally adapted bees which stop brooding in time.

In your case you may do a douple wall from thin plye so that a ventilated air gap is bet ween the hive and outer wall. 5 mm ply is good and light to handle. 10 mm air gap is enough.

Or you may move frames to the polybox. That is the simplest and best way.

.
 

Poly Hive 

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I agree with Finman, the answer is to move over to poly hives.

Snow is actually a bonus for the hives as it insulates them in a breathable way.

Letting bees fly over snow is another matter all together and is fatal to them as they get disorientated by the light reflecting off the s now.

Your climate is not much different to Aberdeenshire, and if anyting softer by reason of being further south. Poly will work well for you, and close off the floor.

I just sit mine on the ground!

What you could do if you are minded is to surround your hives with bales on the goats side of the fence, and then fence that again to keep them off. If you build up a wall to say 6 feet on three sides it should reduce the wind chill considerably.

PH
 
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do the bee's fly about his cellar or what for water and to go to the toilet?
I suspect it is so cold in the cellar that the bees remain in a cluster all winter. They can survive as do bees in hives under snow by licking condensation under the roof in order to gather water to access their stores. Moving the hives under cover is not an uncommon practice in Canada - I have heard of hundreds of hives being placed in a large closed barn. The alternative Canadian strategy was to put the queen and 5 frames in a nuc box and move them south to somewhere warmer. The bees left in the old colony were then killed. Taking them to a cellar seems a little more humane.
 

Finman 

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Canada with -30 C winters and UK are not comparable. Cellar is not easy at all.. If ventilation is not good, bees get a bad nosema and alf of cluster will die. Yes, I Have much experince.

Outside is the best when you have an insulated hivebox. You need not to do any extra movements.

Your climate is not cold. And the winter is very short. An insulated hive is at its best during long shilly spring. Cellar does not help in spring build up.
 
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Canada beeks's bees are shut in... or would all fly out when he turns on light to get a jar of preserves!

Now I know why WBC invented his hive the way he did!
 

Loubee 

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Last year we had thick ice all Nov, then snow Dec - end of March. It was cold. I wonder then about putting polystyrene round the outside or hessian. I take on board that the bubblewrap won't allow the hive to breathe + could cause Nosema problems. I had an omf last year, this year I have an omf with a solid floor under it. Is this mad??
 

oliver90owner 

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I ask again. What top ventilation did you have? And while we are at it, what ventilation have you arranged for this year?

Without this information all that has gone before may well be simple guesses, pure conjecture and quite possibly, of not much use at all in the circumstances.

RAB
 

Loubee 

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I've just been reading simon kerr's post + will try some insulation - Th....s or B.. !
 

jezd 

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Rab, dont think your getting an answer :) lol

I am busy transferring all my smaller colonies to new modified 6 frame poly nucs all this weekend, benefits out-way leaving in larger national kit and chance to fix any stores shortages.
 

fincaazul 

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I agree with Finman, the answer is to move over to poly hives.

Snow is actually a bonus for the hives as it insulates them in a breathable way.

Letting bees fly over snow is another matter all together and is fatal to them as they get disorientated by the light reflecting off the s now.

Your climate is not much different to Aberdeenshire, and if anyting softer by reason of being further south. Poly will work well for you, and close off the floor.

I just sit mine on the ground!

What you could do if you are minded is to surround your hives with bales on the goats side of the fence, and then fence that again to keep them off. If you build up a wall to say 6 feet on three sides it should reduce the wind chill considerably.

PH
Why all the worry about straw bales, extra insulating and all this kerfuffle? Remember that in the wild there is no-one to do this for them and yet we still have bees. On the vegetable front it is said that you cannot sow parsnips before February, yet some parsnips left from previous year that had seeded ended up giving me roots of up to 1.2 kg each. Have faith in the bees, and if they do not make it then it is a case of Darwin's Survival of the fittest. Hope that next season you will get better luck.
 

oliver90owner 

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jezd,

dont think your getting an answer

Sadly, I think you are right. That leads me to think that probably means there was a serious flaw in the winter husbandry last year, and quite likely there could be another again this year.

Lack if information leads to poor or misdirected responses. I now have to guess and say the feed holes should have been closed off last year, or the gap under the crownboard should not have been there. See what I mean? Nobody seems has considered those scenarios and I didn't really want to point a finger, but........ I need say no more, other than when a new beek reads the thread, it will likely be thoroughly misleading, to say the least..

Regards, RAB
 

margob99 

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As a new beek, I am indeed mystified. If you close the feed holes in the crownboard, how do the bees climb through up to the eke to the fondant?
 

keithgrimes 

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As a new beek, I am indeed mystified. If you close the feed holes in the crownboard, how do the bees climb through up to the eke to the fondant?
cut a slit in the fondant packaging and place it slit down over the feed hole. That way it closes the hole AND allows the bees access
 
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As a new beek, I am indeed mystified. If you close the feed holes in the crownboard, how do the bees climb through up to the eke to the fondant?
I put the fondant over the hole.... kills 2 birds with one stone... as someone once embarrasingly said to Sir Peter Scott!!!

or
put a wire QE on top of the broodbox and your fondant on top of that and the eke fitted to give space and a crownboard on to of that with a cove over the feed hole and then a quilt if you wish and then the roof.........
tie the lot down!
 
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I put the fondant over the hole.... kills 2 birds with one stone... as someone once embarrasingly said to Sir Peter Scott!!!

or
put a wire QE on top of the broodbox and your fondant on top of that and the eke fitted to give space and a crownboard on to of that with a cove over the feed hole and then a quilt if you wish and then the roof.........
tie the lot down!
:party:
 

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