Thursday, November 13, 2014
Hives are set for Winter
Having lows in the upper teens or lower 20's and days that don't rise above freezing isn't an uncommon situation around here in November but a stretch that lasts as long as this one is suppose to is a bit unusual. I had just gotten finished with all the late Fall chores when I had to turn around and get the Winter stuff finished.
I stacked all the hay bales around the exposed parts of the foundation yesterday evening and then finished Winterizing the hives today.
As I have mentioned before one of the down sides to keeping bees in North Central Missouri is you pretty much have to deal with both the heat and the cold so it adds to your bottom line and seasonal maintenance costs quite a bit.
Originally I had stacked old hay bales around the hives and I must admit it worked rather well but once I got more than four or five hives scattered around it got a bit pricey, not to mention the Winter of 2012 when finding hay or straw was next to impossible. I didn't wrap my hives that year and suffered some pretty severe losses because of it. Last year I decided to try placing cut sections of foam insulation around the hives. This adds to the overall price as one 4'x8' sheet will cover about three hives. It is basically a one time cost but then the duct tape I use to hold the insulation on the hives isn't cheap either and that is a recurring cost each year.
In the end it still works out quite a bit cheaper than hay bales but in a long term collapse situation it isn't really sustainable either without an endless supply of duct tape.
Does wrapping the hives in this stuff make a difference? Well as I said I didn't wrap my hives during the 2012-13 Winter and lost a number of them but I am still not sure if it was the cold or the after effects of the drought that did them in. Last year I only lost one hive that I thought should have made it with the foam insulation on. I guess I will know more come Spring.
It sure does make the hives kinda ugly though.
I am basically all finished with Winter Hive preps now though. I did notice I forgot to put the Winter feed covers on the two hives I have down at the orchard so it looks like next time I get a warm day I need to go take care of that. When we get a warm day in late December or January I will need to go place some dry sugar on top of all the hives just in case they run low. Otherwise I just get to be a nervous wreck now for the next four and a half months.
Every hive has a small upper entrance in case of deep snow and to allow some ventilation so condensation doesn't drip down on the Winter ball. All new hives have dry sugar and extra honey stores placed on them and as I said even the old hives will get sugar in a month or so. Also in December I will place out hummingbird feeders with sugar water for those rare days the girls can forage or fly a bit.
Every little bit helps.
Keep Prepping Everyone!!!