We got our second major snowfall yesterday so it seems that winter is upon us. Luckily for us it didn’t really start snowing at our house until 9 am so we were able to rush out and complete the one last outdoor chore we had – wrapping up our bee hives. Hive wrapping is one of those things that almost every bee keeper does differently and our method is based on a bunch of ideas we got from more experienced bee keepers. Last year we asked around for some ideas before combining a few of them and since our bees made it through the writer it made sense to do the same things again this year with a few modifications.
Last year we wintered in three brood boxes but this year we worked out of two so the bees will winter in just two. On top of the brood boxes we put an empty honey super (no frames) with a piece of burlap stapled to the bottom. We filled it with pine bedding and some pink foam insulation and then put the lid on it. In theory this should insulate and collect some of the moisture from the hive. We did something similar last year except we used an empty feeder and leaves. We decided not to do that again this year because the feeder got mouldy and we had to spend a lot of time cleaning it before we could use it. We have a ton of honey supers so if this one is really gross in the spring we’ll just burn it.
On the outside of the hive we screwed on sheets of pink foam insulation (the same ones as last year) and then wrapped the whole thing in black tar paper (left over from roofing). We’ve cut holes in paper for the top hive entrance and put on little metal entrance covers (I think they stop it from filling up with snow). I need to go back out once the bees are calmer and cut the bottom entrances out so the bees can come and go when we have warmer weather. We only placed the insulation on three sides of the hive but covered all four sides in paper. This is the same system (and materials) as last year.
I think they look pretty snug out in their houses now. Hopefully they have enough food, stay warm enough and don’t get too much moisture and we see the ladies back out in the spring!