|Removing the latches for the window cover.|
For adding insulation to the ends, I used a follower board as a template and cut some foam to fit inside the hive at each end. I moved the follower boards closer together and shrunk down the area of the hive the bees would have to keep warm.
I wrapped it all up and secured it with bungee cords. I used four really small bungees to attach the bottom foam insulation to the side foam so that when I remove the large bungees that cinch everything together, the whole thing doesn't come apart. This makes it easier for one person with only two hands to manage. The side foam panels sit snugly between the end boards, keeping them in place when I remove the bungees, and the bottom foam stays in place because it's attached to the sides. Because the lid/cedar roof sit loosely on top of the hive to begin with, it still fits over the insulation and bungees, albeit more snugly.
I'm a little concerned about the amount of food they have. According to various forums I've read, my hive should feel around 100 - 150lbs in order to contain enough honey for them to survive the winter. We had a lot of thieves in the hive this fall - mostly yellowjackets, but I also suspect from nearby hives (there are 4 others within a kilometer of here) - leaving the food supply quite low. The hive is certainly much heavier since I fed them a few rounds of 2:2 sugar syrup (which I felt necessary), but I'm not convinced that the hive is heavy enough. One of the issues with feeding them late in the season is the time it takes for the new honey they produce to ripen. As it ripens, it can create condensation, which wreaks havoc on the bees when the temperature drops. So, I stopped before the temps dropped too much. In the last week or so, Montreal has become a frigid winter wonderland.
My other option to supplement their food is to give them organic honey directly in the hive at various times throughout the winter. I'll want to do it on "warm" days, which, for Montreal winters, are few and far between.
|photo from www.backyardhive.com|
I will use a turkey baster to drop some honey into a shallow dish I placed below the first few top bar/comb. This site suggested first mixing the honey with a little warm water to make it easier to transfer. I'm not sure I will do this. I want to avoid any excess moisture. Because this was my first season with the bees, I don't have any of their own honey on hand (I did get a small amount in the summer, but that is long gone). I can otherwise supplement with organic honey, as I mentioned above.
So, please cross your fingers with me that my bees tough it out this winter. I can hardly wait for spring!
If you have a top bar hive (or otherwise) and have suggestions for me, please comment!!
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