It got so cold last night there was a hard frost on the grass and street this morning when I went for a walk with the dog, Juju.
And it’s supposed to rain all week, yet today was supposed to get up to 51 (got up to 48) and it was clear and sunny. I needed to take advantage of the weather and wrap up the girls for the winter.
I went ahead and just left the inline feeder in the one hive since they have enough food, and if there’s a warm day and I peek in and know they need food, I can give them a little.
The girls were actually out and about a little – not a big volume, but they were one by one steadily going in and out of both hives. I actually saw one girl with bags of very light yellow pollen on her legs. Maybe some asters still blooming somewhere in a neighbors yard.
So I suited and gloved up, got the smoker going and just gave them a few puffs at the front door so they might settle down or know it’s me. I was going to be making a lot of noise and shaking.
I had a good pair of scissors and a new roll of black felt roofing paper. I unrolled the roofing paper around the two hives and cut off a swath with plenty of extra, then moved the rest of the roll aside. It’s REALLY HEAVY and I didn’t want to be struggling with it.
I then held it up to the hives and found it was about 5 inches too long so I went around the bottom and cut off 5 inches.
I had an electric stapler (not a giant staple gun – just a little craft electric stapler), plugged it in to my extension cord and was ready.
hives from the front. Pink insulation panels on the open sides, roofing wrap around both hives, notches for the top entrances.
I held the top edge of the roofing paper tight up against the top of the hive, and right under the roof overhang, pressed the stapler in tight to the hive body and punched the trigger and it stapled it in real tight. I did this carefully all around both hives, putting 3 staples in the tops of each side the hives.
When I got to the front, I cut good sized notches in the tops so the bees could get in and out of the top doors. I had measured it just right so the paper was about 1/2 an inch higher than the front door so the bees can come and go without obstruction.
I only stapled the top of the paper, pulled it tight as I went around, but it still flares out just a little at the bottom. This will still keep the wind out of the cracks between the boxes, but IF it gets wet between the paper and the boxes, this allows some air flow. The rain and moisture should hit the roof, go down and miss the paper (since the roof overhangs the paper) and go down the outsides of the paper instead of the inside next to the hive because the paper is so tight up against the hive at the top.
I decided not to put screen over the front door this year (at least, not yet) with a small hole to act as an entrance reducer. It just seems to cause issues with the girls being able to clean out the hive and I have to go out several times during the winter, unhook the screen, reach in with a ruler and pull out all the dead bodies piled up against the screen at the front door. I think leaving off the reducer will let them more efficiently clean out the hive. If there seems to be an issue in the early spring with wasps, I’ll put it on at that time.
This year, with the girls on their new deck, they sit on the ground with cement blocks as a floor. Previously they were on a wooden deck with slats, over an entrance to the basement. So there was air flow coming up from beneath them.
Back of the hives. Pink insulating panels on the open sides; on top of the hive stands so no air gets down through those openings; and across both hive roofs. Bricks and blocks holding everything down.
So when I put the insulating panels on the sides, and the tops of the hive stands, there are a few places where there is 2-3 inches of open space where air can get in. I think this will be better, even though it could be cold air, just so they don’t end up so airtight they have moisture problems.
Because of the telescoping lids, the hives can be exactly together. But they’re wrapped together. So this should create about a 3″ air space between the hives which can act as insulating.
I watched to make sure the girls were getting in and out of both the top door and front porch door well, and they were. Throughout the whole process, even though I was thunking and banging and stapling on the hives, none of them took a dive at me.
I took some pics of the front and back of the hive as they are now, with cement blocks on top of the insulating panel on top of the hives and bricks holding on the other panels on the back and sides.
Alright, little girls. It’s up to you now. I’m sure you’ll still be flying any day it gets sunny and up to 40, but I won’t be digging around in your house until next spring.
I’ll miss you……..I already do.