Successful wintering.

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Poly Hive

Queen Bee
Dec 4, 2008
Reaction score
Scottish Borders
Hive Type
Number of Hives
12 and 18 Nucs
We don't seem to have discussed this and it seems rather timely so....

To achieve successful wintering what do we need, or rather what do the bees need?

Dry accommodation.

Good air drainage.

Top quality food supplies in abundance.

Discuss and post on.

Devilish mood today, so I will suggest frames warm way?

Getting a bit late to sort some of those out.

What about health?

Strength of colony?

Insulation from the worst of the British weather?

So WBC or National?

Regards, RAB
Neither so Poly of course for the best housing but I was deliberately staying away from specific hives.

Surely far too late to manipulate frames to 'warm' from 'cold' way. Not a good idea to instigate this to new beeks.
The colony will be settled. All they need is not to be disturbed and good ventilation with possible draught areas reduced.
Possibly a slab of fondant is the only extra Xmas gift for them (after Oxalic pressie of course, and this cold spell will have ensured broodless colonies surely, so time ripe there)

Surely far too late to manipulate frames to 'warm' from 'cold' way.

Same again. Read line two. I wasn't suggesting anything be done now, in fact the opposite! There for discussion only.

Nothing really to discuss and post on the original 3 suggestions. Ventilation maybe, but drainage to me means downwards only - back to OMFs?

Regards, RAB
The best Autumn preparation, treating for varroa and plenty of stores, and plenty of Winter bees to take the colony through to the Spring.
A good Wintering site and waterproof equpiment with plenty of ventilation to prevent condensation.
A treatment of oxalic when broodless and check the weight January onwards, fondant on if short of stores.
Otherwise leave the bees alone!
Advice from a novice.

I would say the most important one is ventilation.
You can always feed throughout winter if you need to but keeping them dry will keep them in good health.
What do you mean by ventilation Admin? The dreaded matchsticks?

Sidestepping the ventilation issue, although I find varroa floors out all winter work best with poly hives but my main criteria for good wintering would be:

low varroa numbers
Early feeding if honey removed.
What do you mean by ventilation Admin? The dreaded matchsticks?


No,possibly like yourself I cringe at the thought of balancing matchsticks.
I was thinking OMF and hive in the open allowing good air circulation in winter away from a frost pocket.

I dont like damp hives...
I have the hive on a hive stand (2 ft off the floor?), with a big waterproof box over the top of it to keep the rain and wind off.

I DID have the inspection tray out (i.e. just mesh floor between the bees and the outside world), but put it back in yesterday just leaving a couple of inches for the air to circulate.

Is this enough ventilation, or is more always good? I don't want them to get damp but I also don't want them to get hit by cold draughty wind all winter either . . .

Any advice?


That will be fine as long as it's a 'couple inches' all the way along....

Your biggest problem might be blowing over! Is the lot strapped together with ratchet straps, or similar, and reasonably secure from tipping?

I reduce my OMF ventilation, especially on the Dartingtons if/when it comes particularly cold and windy. The air will not get so mixed above the mesh as that will slow the air somewhat and the warm air will stay above the cluster, and they will slowly be eating their way towards the top of the combs. Remember, mine are on 305mm deep frames, not a standard depth frame, so are better off than some. I would rather not over-winter on a single standard frame with a completely open OMF.

Regards, RAB
An apiary that is sheltered from heavy winds. What about some forage for those warm days when the girls can get out?

is there anything you can do to change that?

PS snowdrops coming out here :)
is there anything you can do to change that?

PS snowdrops coming out here :)

The fuschia has just died off in my garden so I'll be taking some cuttings to plant in the apiary next year. I have already put some crocus in and they are beginning to sprout. Plants that flower from October through to March are good to have as close as possible to the hives so the bees don't have far to travel.