It has been a while since I shared our harvest and winter is in full swing here. Winter style? Insulation is in, people!
Here you can see what our hive looks like in the winter. There are endless ways to winter hives, but I'll explain how we do it.
We put R7 insulation around the hive and reduce the entrances to be just big enough for bees to get through but small enough to keep mice and the cold wind out. You can't see it, but the uppermost super (box) is filled with cardboard - to wick away moisture - and insulation for warmth. We leave a 3/8" hole at the top for air circulation and in case the bottom entrance gets blocked by a snow drift Bees need to take "cleansing flights" - they don't poop in the hive, and when temps are high enough, they get out to go! On the back side of our winter base, Mr. Bee made a door that we can open in order to scrape out dead bees. Even if the colony survives winter, most of the bees will die over the course of the season.
We left this hive with about 70 lbs. of honey to eat. We have decided they need to make it on their own through the end of February, when we would put another whole super (35 lbs.) of honey on to get them through March.
We do our best to help bees winter when we believe that they have the potential to survive and when they have qualities we would like to see go on (temperament, productivity, health, reproduction, etc.). We have our fingers crossed for this hive!
Insulation is also key for all of us human beings in Minnesota.
More about bees and winter to come. In the meantime, Happy New Year!