Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Winterizing Beehives

A few weeks ago we began winterizing our beehives. We started by wrapping the bee yard with heavy plastic. The arbor-like structure around the bee yard is multi-purpose. In the summer we hang awnings to provide shade for the hives; in the winter we wrap the lower sections to provide a wind break.

Next, we wrap each top bar hive individually. We make an insulation blanket out of large plastic bags filled with 4" fiberglass insulation. We wrap the blankets carefully around the hive box and cover it with tar paper. It's cinched down with nylon web straps. We also secure the box to the ground with more nylon straps and hurricane anchors. It seems excessive in the calm of November, but we might be glad for it during a January blizzard.

Each of our top bar hives has six entrance holes on the small east-facing end of the hive. As the weather gets cooler and the bees less active, it's a good idea to close up some of the entrances to reduce cold air flow.

Evidently, the bees in my blue hive thought I was too slow in closing up entrances. They decided to solve this problem themselves by filling in all three top entrance holes with propolis, their own special bee glue.

The three lower entrance holes on that hive are partially closed. They left a little room to exit and enter. I guess I won't mess with their system since they seem to have it worked out. I'll be curious to see if they open all six holes in the spring. And if they don't, should I do anything about it?

We're optimistic about our hives this winter. In spite of various summer challenges, all three hives seem to have plenty of honey stored and they appear healthy and strong. Now we wait out the winter and hope for the best.

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