BEEKEEPING IN THE NORTHEAST - An account of my beekeeping, not a treatise of expertise, but for friends & family who wish to keep bees vicariously through me, and for the occasional apiarist passer-by.

Monday, October 31, 2011

About Wrapping A Beehive

(Edit 2017: I do not wrap my hives all the way around any longer, just three sides so the bees can find their way home. I have not lost a hive to winter or spring thaw in many years.)

First snow yesterday. 20's today.

This little 8 frame hive of Canadian Buckfast Bees (mix) is not a good example of wrapping for one reason: Old time Canadian beekeeper told me to only wrap the sides and back as the sun warming up the hive on an odd sunny day in winter or early spring can fool the bees into thinking it is time to go forage or that the cold outside is doable. They leave the hive to void and freeze.

I did not wrap my hive last winter. It was a big colony with lots of stores and so I just chanced using hay bails on sides and back only with the front of the hive facing the sun. The bees withstood -20 F at was a very hard winter and long and these were Italians. I kept the moisture out with pine needles in a super and a homasote board cut to fit for an inner cover on top of that.

This little hive you see in the picture swarmed in July and had little or no stores and they are in a very wooded yard, so I'm erring on the side of caution. Another concern I have is that the first time I wrapped a hive the bees came back from voiding flights and got lost under the wrap. I had it too high up to the upper exit and too low close to the lower entrance.

This time, I strategically placed it to just simply cover a vulnerability in the space between the hive deep and super. I cut it narrower and so if the sun hits it and warms it will warm the place between the brood chamber and the honey stores. I hope that by the time a bee climbs up to the inner cover to go out or down to the lower entrance she'll figure out that it is too cold to go out. I also stapled it down all the way around to avoid bees getting lost underneath.

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