Holidays from the Hive!

By December 17, 2020Uncategorized

A week or two ago Hydra and I layered on our sturdiest pants and zipped up our bee jackets to go out and winterize the Kintail hives. This time of year bees spend most of their time inside getting ready for winter, which meant that there were a lot of bees in the hives who did not care to be disturbed by Hydra and myself. Rest assured, our layers worked and we both came out sting free. 

You may be wondering; why do you need to winterize a bee hive? – after all bees have been surviving the winter long before humans got involved! That’s a great question! Bees do a lot of great things to survive a chilly Canadian winter: First of all, in the fall the bees spend all of their time collecting and storing pollen and nectar for honey to eat throughout the winter. Secondly, the female worker bees kick the male drone bees out of the hive because they eat too much food. The worker bee’s number 1 top priority is to keep the queen bee alive, so in the winter they form a cluster around the queen, move their wings and shiver their bodies to expel heat which helps to maintain a cluster temperature of 35C. To do all of this shivering they need the honey to eat – which fuels their bodies – so this year we did not extract any honey from the Kintail hives. We want the bees to have all of that yummy honey available to eat throughout the winter.  The bees will only leave the hive for cleansing flights to expel waste, they never go inside the hive. 

3 Goals for Winterizing a Beehive

1. Help keep the hive warm

Hydra and I put a black corrugated hive wrap on the hives. The black will help warm the hive on sunny days so that the bees don’t have to shiver as much to stay warm. The corrugation helps to keep the heat in and the cool air out. When the bees are warmer they can leave the cluster comfortably to eat the honey that gives them energy to keep the queen warm. 

2. Help reduce heat loss

We inserted entrance reducers at the entrance of both hives to reduce the amount of cold air coming into the hive. The entrance reducers also help to keep pests (like mice) out of the hive 

3. Prevent condensation

Hydra and I (with some help from Titan) added foam insulation to the outer cover, this will help reduce the amount of condensation that forms on the ceiling of the hive. Cold condensation can drip onto the bees in the cluster and kill them. Another thing we did to prevent condensation is we flipped the inner cover around, which exposed a notch in the cover that will allow air to circulate throughout the hive. 

That’s all for now! Hydra, the Camp Kintail Bees and I hope that everyone has a BEE-autiful Christmas!

BEE merry!

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Bee Keeper in Training