A pivotal piece here on my homestead for winter survival of my honeybee hives. When I first started beekeeping here in NJ, I lost my hives three seasons in a row. Since then, I’ve overwintered successfully. Here’s what’s worked for me:
1. Feed sugar cakes.
I leave my bees with the majority of their honey (90% to be precise). This is plenty to get them through winter. But as an insurance policy, I place sugar cakes directly on top of the frames for access in case it’s too cold for them to move between frames. It’s easier for a cluster of bees to move up instead of over.
2. A Quiltbox.
I place a spacer right under the outer cover, on top of the inner cover. This spacer is lined with a screen on the bottom and has screened air holes on the side. Inside are pine shavings. Any condensation that builds up from the warm colony on a cold day accumulates under the outer lid. But a quiltbox prevents it from dripping onto the bees. Bees can survive cold. They can’t survive wet and cold. I check my shavings about once every few weeks to make sure they’re dry. The bees are never exposed to cool air while doing so.
Have you tried a quilt box? I have a video on my Guides tab under beekeeping on how to build one if you’re interested. 🐝
Angela is the farmer and content creator behind Axe & Root Homestead® LLC. This historic six-acre permaculture farm is home to two Clydesdale horses, ten honeybee hives, five sheep, two guardian dogs, barn cats and a flock of 40 geese and ducks. The farm produces maple syrup, fruit from a small orchard and loads of garden produce for consumption, preservation and donation to the local food pantry.
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