Wrapping Beehives for Winter

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krennie 

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If you want to check on the bees during winter, I have found it helpful to use a clear crown board. This method uses a sheet of clear acrylic or polycarbonate plastic, rather than plywood for the crown board. It is then very easy to get a "top side view" of the bees without disturbing them, or exposing them to cold air.
How do you add fondant in January without disturbing the bees? I am confused. At the moment my bees have stores and are ready for winter with insulation in roof.
 

Murox 

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How do you add fondant in January without disturbing the bees? I am confused. At the moment my bees have stores and are ready for winter with insulation in roof.
Via a hole in the crown board (of your choice) or eke. Keep the hole closed over when not in use and ensure good insulation on top of the crown board. Ideally You will have prepared the bees for winter and they will have enough stores to last them.
 
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krennie 

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thankyou, so configuration sort of like this?UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_362f.jpg
 

Murox 

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Oops I've confused you further, apologies.

from the top down
Roof
top insulatio
n >> the most important area to insulate
eke OR crown board >> can be made from polycarbonate
hive body >> some people with wooden boxes do make poly cosies as well

a nadired shallow for what purpose?
 

krennie 

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nadir shallow was recommended by local bee guru to overwinter as broodbox then protected from drafts from entrance? I think I have understood correctly.
 

Murox 

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nadir shallow was recommended by local bee guru to overwinter as broodbox then protected from drafts from entrance? I think I have understood correctly.
Where do you think the warmest place in the hive would be? in a shallow at floor level or in the top of a broodbox? bearing in mind heat generally rises. There really is no need for you to use a shallow below the brood box in the way described. If you are using standard wooden nationals simply reduce the entrance to a couple of inches, especially if you are using an open OMF and remember the mouse guard.. Where I am its WINDY so I do close off my OMF most of the time in fact. There can be reasons to use a shallow as you describe but I do not believe to protect from drafts is one of them.
 

Apiarisnt 

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Can someone put up an image of a homemade poly eke/crown board ??
PerspexEkeAndFondant.jpg


..which includes details of how to make them.

Note he puts the fondant under the crownboard ( which is what I also do). No great problems with brace comb over the winter, and you do eliminate the draughts that are near inevitable if you use a crownboard with a hole and put the fondant above
 

Poly Hive 

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These are a couple of my ekes for nucs which may help. Dead cheap to make with the screws for corner strength and initially to pull the glued surfaces together. External wood glue before it's asked. Whilst in theory bees fed in Autumn are fed for the Winter there is that little issue of isolation starvation and I like to lay a slab of fondant across the top bars so no matter where the cluster is they are close to food. Over kill? Very likely but it makes me feel safer.

PH
 

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bobba 

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The king span style insulation is better, but you can use the polystyrene stuff too, just go 75-100mm if you do.

I saw a vid where a guy uses an empty super and a bin bag of fiber wool - it was what he had to hand.

The king span works out not too expensive if you buy a big bit and chop it down for many hives , but if you only have a hive or 2, then it can be a lot per hive.

So if you are just starting out and want to save £, then be creative. I think a spare super stuffed with a bin bag of old bubble wrap would work.

Regarding the theory in general of insulating hives, you must always remember bees cannot shut the door. So it will get cold inside the hive no matter what you do. I over winter mine on mesh floors too.

The main reason for insulating the roof is to stop condensation forming above the cluster.

I considered wrapping up my hives like jon bee man saunders before my first winter as I wanted to do all I could for my bees. But luckily I decided agents it and saved a lot of effort. So if you are new to bees and are unsure whats best for your local climate, try find out what other local keepers do. And experiment each winter until you find a minimum effort solution for your climate.
 

jenkinsbrynmair 

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I saw a vid where a guy uses an empty super and a bin bag of fiber wool - it was what he had to hand.
:willy_nilly: :willy_nilly: :willy_nilly: OH NO!! you'll have the insulation stazi on to you for mentioning the R word!!
 

krennie 

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Where do you think the warmest place in the hive would be? in a shallow at floor level or in the top of a broodbox? bearing in mind heat generally rises. There really is no need for you to use a shallow below the brood box in the way described. If you are using standard wooden nationals simply reduce the entrance to a couple of inches, especially if you are using an open OMF and remember the mouse guard.. Where I am its WINDY so I do close off my OMF most of the time in fact. There can be reasons to use a shallow as you describe but I do not believe to protect from drafts is one of them.
thankyou for this helpful info. I hope that the bottom shallow won't cause any problems over the winter.
I am a bit uncertain why we put it there to be honest, but it was when we were feeding in a rapid feeder from the top to help build up stores and perhaps it was to ensure a bit of space too?
 

Murox 

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thankyou for this helpful info. I hope that the bottom shallow won't cause any problems over the winter.
I am a bit uncertain why we put it there to be honest, but it was when we were feeding in a rapid feeder from the top to help build up stores and perhaps it was to ensure a bit of space too?
Its up to you Krennie, I would remove the nadired shallow but I don't know your area or set up. A well provisioned ordinary deep national brood box is perfectly able to support the colony over winter without the need for a shallow below to 'ensure a bit of space" over winter - the colony is now contracting not expanding.
Do you know how to gauge the amount of stores in a hive ? there are some threads about hefting and so on if you search for them.
 

Hebeegeebee 

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Beekeepers put a super of stores under the brood box (no queen excluder) to ensure that there is enough food in the hive for winter; The bees are in the top part of the hive where it's warmer and without an excluder, they have free access to the stores. If a super is above the brood box (without an excluder), there's a good chance that the queen will be laying in the super come spring. If the super is above the brood box with an excluder, the concern is that the bees will move into the super and leave the queen below, with disasterous consequences.
Generally the nadired super is empty by spring, when it can be removed. It would also help reduce drafts around the nether regions if an open mesh floor is used all winter. If you have a 14 x 12 or commercial brood box, there'll be enough stores for winter if full, so a nadired super isn't required.

A National brood box should be big enough to furnish the colony with stores for winter in most cases. However if a single brood box is over-filled in september, either by good forage or a lot of syrup, the space for the queen to lay will be reduced, when you want winter bees to be produced. Under-filled, and the bees might starve or you are faffing about with fondant in February and March. A super of food in addition to what's in the brood box ensures there's enough stores without having to worry.
(Some bees keep a large brood-nest over winter and could run out of food in a single brood box).
From my experience, a slab of insulation on top of the colony reduces winter fuel consumption. Even an empty super filled with scrunched newspaper will be significant.
 
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krennie 

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many thanks for your encouraging reply. As I have now a back issue, I will leave the nadirsuper under the 14 x 12 brood box as there is an OMF.
I will add some fondant in February if needed, or are you suggesting that it is fine to put a super with fondant now when you say "a super of food in addition to what's in the brood box..."
Next challenge is the December varroa treatment....
 

hemo 

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The super /nadiring is for open stores to be moved up, pointless doing so if it is all sealed, if sealed leave above the BB and remove the QX. So what if the Q lays in the super early spring, simply QX and let the brood emerge and they will back fill. The honey will be good to eat later and not much different to a heavy flow when it will dumped into brood frames and then moved up by the house bees.

A 14 x12 certainly doesn't need a nadir or a super over for winter.
 

manek 

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Just a quick note on insulation materials: your local building skip is often a good source of free stuff....
 

Hebeegeebee 

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many thanks for your encouraging reply. As I have now a back issue, I will leave the nadirsuper under the 14 x 12 brood box as there is an OMF.
I will add some fondant in February if needed, or are you suggesting that it is fine to put a super with fondant now when you say "a super of food in addition to what's in the brood box..."
Next challenge is the December varroa treatment....
A point (warning) about putting a super under a 14x12 brood box. I recall reading on this forum that one beekeeper reported that the bees died of starvation despite the super having food in it. The reason - I vaguely remember - was that the broodbox was not supplied with much food before winter and with the super many inches away (and maybe placed there very late so the colony could not organise it's stores as it liked?), the bees could not get down to fetch it back - a few inches in the cold is a mile away for a bee in winter.
 

Erichalfbee 

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A point (warning) about putting a super under a 14x12 brood box. I recall reading on this forum that one beekeeper reported that the bees died of starvation despite the super having food in it. The reason - I vaguely remember - was that the broodbox was not supplied with much food before winter and with the super many inches away (and maybe placed there very late so the colony could not organise it's stores as it liked?), the bees could not get down to fetch it back - a few inches in the cold is a mile away for a bee in winter.
Yes indeed. The super goes under after harvest if there is uncapped honey that can’t be extracted so that the bees move it up into the brood.
 

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