Winter is coming! It’s coming slowly, but nevertheless, it’s coming. One of my main goals with this beehive is to keep it alive through the winter. That means we need to prepare.
I missed our last beekeeper meeting, but luckily one of my coworkers at the #secretdoghotel went and filled me in later. I also emailed the head of our club and she sent me some good information, so I think I sort of know what I’m doing… kind of. Maybe.
The thing with overwintering bees is that everyone does it differently. One main goal is to provide good ventilation so condensation doesn’t build up. Hence, the hive doesn’t get moldy, the bees don’t freeze to death, etc. The second main goal is to keep them somewhat warm (apparently they can handle that on their own). The third is to make sure they don’t starve to death.
So, in order to keep good ventilation, I have added an upper entrance to the hive by replacing the inner cover with a notched inner cover and facing the entrance downwards in the front. The bees have already learned how to use it! I’m a bit concerned about mold build-up because the original upper entrance was covered in mold around the edges when I took it out. This could be due to the liquid feed I had placed on top, exposing it to the elements because I added a deep box on top of it (for fall feeding), and/or because I never painted the sides. I didn’t paint the sides on this new one either and I feel like I’m going to regret that. I don’t want to remove it again and I don’t know if painting it while it’s on the hive is a bad idea or worth it at all. To add further insulation, my brother helped me tip the hive downward in case any condensation builds up, it can run out the hive.
For the heat situation, I am planning on wrapping the hive in tar paper and adding upper insulation in that deep box already on top of the brood boxes. However, I don’t know what to use as insulation. Most recommend a waterproof material that absorbs well. Does that type of material exist at all? We are working on finding both, since you can buy A LOT of tar paper for $20 and that is the only option, really. It’s not like a fabric store, where you can purchase a yard or two.
As for feeding, I think my hive has enough honey to last the winter (we didn’t extract any), but just in case, I’ve placed newspaper on top of the frames and sugar on top of that. Apparently the bees will chew through the newspaper and eat the sugar.
I’m definitely excited (and nervous) to see what’s going to happen over the winter. I hope the bees will be okay. I will provide photos once we get the insulation and tar paper on the hive.