We are David & Sheri Burns helping you discover and enjoy being a beekeeper! In today's lesson, I'll be giving you information on how to improve your chances of pulling your bees through the winter, and I'll show you some new inventions I'm working on to remove winter moisture from the hive. Before we get into today's lesson, let me encourage you to get ready for spring by ordering your hive and bees!
Call now to order: 217-427-2678.
LESSON 44: Poor Winter Hives
Now that most of the USA is facing exceptionally cold temperatures beekeepers start to worry about bees and they should! Many beekeepers make the mistake of trying to winter weak and questionable hives. We all do it at times. As a result, many hives fail during the winter months, primarily during the months of February and March. Those that do survive are so weak, they are not very impressive during the following year.
Right now, in most hives, there is excess and dangerous moisture. Moisture develops from the bees themselves and from the stark difference in temperature between the cluster's 90 (f) to the very cold temperature outside the hive. Condensation develops on the inside of the hive and collects on the top cover and drips back down on the bees. Bees can be cold and stay warm effectively, but not with cold water dripping on them.
This photo was taken from my experiments conducted on December 17th at 6:00 p.m. with an outside temperature of 43 degrees (f)
My brothers is the engineer of the family and we had a discussion the other day on the problem with moisture in the hive. He recommended that I build a particular device to attract the moisture and cause it to drip outside the hive. I took his ideals, headed for my shop and came up with several devices that I am experimenting with.
The first one is a bit more complex than the others. Two pvc pipes 1 1/2 run through the top cover at an angle. The pvc pipes are vented on the top. Metal pipes run through the middle of the pvc pipes and extend 4-5 inches outside. The idea is that the cold air turns the metal pipes cold and that cold is transferred on to the pipe as it runs through the pvc above the brood nest are where the heat is and draws the condensation onto the metal pipes and drips into the pvc pipes and runs out of the hive.
The metal extends outward beyond the back of the hive so that water runs along the angled metal and drips outside the hive.
By merely insulating the inside of the top cover, much condensation will be eliminated. Here's how you can do it. Go to your local sign shop and ask for scrap pieces of plastic corrugated sign material. I call it plastic cardboard. Politician signs are made from this material.
You can also find this material at most office stores and sometimes at Wal-mart.
Then, go to you local home improvement store and buy a role of floor padding that goes beneath laminated floors. Some call it floor sound barrier material. It is very thin, about 1/8 of an inch, slick on one side and textured on the other.
It seems that many beekeepers fail to realize they must keep their hives extremely strong during the bee season. The hive must always have a good laying queen producing many frames of solid sealed brood. A poorly laying queen must be replaced immediately. DO NOT keep a poorly laying queen. Your hive might survive the summer, but it will not produce enough foragers to gather much honey, and it will probably not survive the winter. This image shows how a good queen will produce solid frames of sealed brood. Limited brood or spotty brood will make for a weak summer hive and a hive that is certain to die during the winter.