As winter sets in, it’s important to ensure your bees are protected against the elements while they hunker down. This guide is aimed at those of you in a cold and wet climate. I’m based in North Carolina, where the temperature rarely drops below 21°F (-6°C). I add a medium super containing wood shavings to my hive, which insulates them and helps to keep moisture out. Here’s how:
I treat my hives for mites with an oxalic acid vaporizer before putting on the winter covers. Check that your bees have enough food stores to last the winter. I want my bees to have a brood box and a medium super that is filled with honey. If the medium super does not have enough stores, add a sugar water feeder.
1. Lay a piece of muslin cloth over the top of a medium super.
2. Staple the cloth tightly to the edge of the super.
3. Use a scissors to remove any excess cloth from around the edge of the super.
4. Pack the super with wood shavings until it is between 1/2 to 3/4 full.
5. Remove the lid and the inner cover on the hive then place the cloth directly on top of the frames.
6. Replace the inner cover and lid on the hives.
7. Fill the bottom tray with wood shavings and slide it in.
8. Wrap the hives in roofing paper, and leave a flap at the front entrance.
9. Staple a piece of roofing paper to the bottom of the hive to prevent cold air from blowing up and to keep out snow.
10. Strap everything down to keep it secure against the wind.
This setup will help your bees to see out the winter safely. The wood shavings provide insulation, and also absorb condensation to prevent moisture dripping into the hive. Remember to ensure that they have plenty of food stores to last until spring.
Sarge Gregory has been keeping bees in North Carolina for four years. He is a regular contributor to questions posted on the Flow Community Forum.
At Flow, we love to hear from all kinds of beekeepers using all types of methods, but their views are their own and are not necessarily endorsed by Flow. We advise reading widely, connecting with your local beekeeping association and finding a mentor as you delve into this fascinating hobby.