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Entrance Reducers - Winter

Posted: December 11th, 2016, 8:50 pm
by BDT123
Do most folks totally close off the bottom entrance for winter?
What's the cold climate protocol? Anyone?
I'm in West-central Alberta; just east of the foothills.

Re: Entrance Reducers - Winter

Posted: December 11th, 2016, 9:41 pm
by BDT123
I should add, I did NOT insulate, just wrapped and insulated top. Very healthy honey and protein supply pre-winter.
If I should have insulated, my bad.
The Internet was very inconclusive, so I settled on upper ventilation. If I f**ked up, I will take the abuse. My bees will pay the the price. If I was right, I have hardy bees, worthy of replication.
Any advice/ comments ?

Re: Entrance Reducers - Winter

Posted: December 11th, 2016, 10:22 pm
by Countryboy
I don't use entrance reducers.

My entrances are 3/8 of an inch year round. (and my supers have lots of holes in them.) Some guys just put the 1/2 inch hardware cloth over entrances as a permanent mice guard.

If you are worried about too much cold air getting in, in the fall, place a box under the bees. For example, if you normally overwinter in doubles, give them 3 boxes. Place a box on the bottom board (empty, drawn comb if you have it, foundation, it doesn't matter) and then put the double on top of the box. This gives the bees a dead air space below them, which seems to help insulate them in the hive and up away from cold damp air that lays right on the ground.

I use honey supers below my brood box. In the early spring, if a hive needs room, I can place the super above the brood box to give them a place to store nectar as a way to help prevent swarms. Some of my bee yards can be really muddy in the spring, and so I walk in. If the ground is a swamp, I can't haul a load of supers in...but if I already have supers at the beeyard, I can give the bees supers when they need it. I may not be able to give them as many supers as they need, but I can buy myself a little time until the ground firms up.

Allen could probably give you better advice for Alberta.

Re: Entrance Reducers - Winter

Posted: December 13th, 2016, 4:58 am
by BadBeeKeeper
I close my entrances up small for the Winter. Last year some of the entrance reducers were chewed to make a bigger hole. I thought it was mice that had done it to get in, but I never found any signs of mice being in any of the hives, so the bees became the suspects.

I also insulate- 3/4" rigid foam insulation surrounded with a corrugated black plastic jacket, and an over-sized insulated winter cover, with moisture-absorbing board over the inner cover. Upper and lower entrances both open, lower reduced.

My worst Winter winds are from the West and North, so all hives are oriented with entrances facing easterly to southerly directions.

I'm in a valley where hills can funnel the winds at speeds of up to 80mph (occasionally higher) and the Winter temps sometimes hit -25F for several weeks. I have had some full hives (double deeps) with weighted tops get blown right off the stands (pallets).

So, I prepare them for the worst, if it doesn't get that bad, no harm fact, I had some hives that I was late removing the insulation this past spring- all of the hives still insulated built up better and bigger with up to four more frames laid out, compared to the ones that had the insulation removed.