Wrapping a Colony for a Northern Winter

Bee Health January 15, 2010 Print Friendly and PDF
  • The methods described here are illustrated in the following University of Minnesota Instructional Poster "Wrapping a Colony for a Northern Winter" Download a .pdf here.


Insulating colonies for winter can be worth the cost and effort in cold climates by insreasing winter survival. Here is one method to prepare colonies for winter:



1. The first step is to evaluate the colony in September for its wintering ability. It should have a young prolific queen, enough honey stores (75-95 lbs.), large bee population(10+ frames of bees) and few mites. Feed syrup medicated for Nosema.


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2. The colony should be in 3 deep hive bodies with most of the honey toward the top. The holes in the bottom two boxes should be closed.


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3. The hole in the top box should be open. If you do not have a hole for an upper entrance you should drill one now. Make it below the handle.


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4. The entrance reducer should be placed with the 3” space facing up. 1. The first step is to evaluate the colony in September for its wintering ability. It should have a young prolific queen, enough honey stores (75-95 lbs.), large bee population(10+ frames of bees) and few mites. Feed syrup medicated for Nosema.


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5. Soon after the first of November start wrapping by placing a moisture board on top of the inner cover. This is a porous sheeting that will absorb moisture from the hive and evaporate to the outside. Shown is 3/4” Bild Rite® sheeting.


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6. The moisture board is very important. Shivering bees in the winter cluster produce a lot of metabolic water that must not freeze inside the colony. Do not use one that has a moisture barrier. If you do not have access to this sheeting a stack of newspaper 1” thick can work. Do not use Styrofoam type material.


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7. Place a beehive winter wrap over the colony. Note that one of the flaps is folded inside. This will allow air to pass over the moisture board to evaporate the moisture.


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8. Cut a hole in the winter cover to correspond with the top entrance hole.


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9. Put the cover on the top but be sure to leave it crooked so the air can get at the moisture board to evaporate. Put a rock on to prevent the wind from blowing it off.


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10. This is the colony ready for winter. You should not have to visit it until March.


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11. Optional. You can make a little landing board and nail it below the hole. This also keeps the cover tight against the box.


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12. Optional. You can also make a little wind deflector and staple over the hole. This can stop some of the wind from blowing in the entrance. Be sure to put it up from the landing 1/2” to let the bees enter.


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13. Entrance is ready for winter


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14. For details on mites and diseases see Honey Bee Diseases and Pests manual or Healthy Bees web course. www.extension.umn.edu/.honeybees


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15. For more information on managing honey bees see our manual Beekeeping in Northern Climates. www.extension.umn.edu/.honeybees


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Source:
University of Minnesota Instructional Poster #163, Gary S. Reuter and Marla Spivak, Department of Entomology
Download the original Wrapping a Colony for a Northern Winter.pdf here.