Caffeine Infused December Beeyard Visit

Today’s beeyard visit is brought to you by the world’s most socially acceptable psychotropic drug: caffeine. Let’s go!

00:00 — Honey bees clustering in the cold.
00:42 — Black-painted hives instead of wrapping.
01:55 — Converting to all medium supers/hive boxes.
04:00 — Drilling holes in large foundation.
04:35 — Explanation of moisture quilts/quilt boxes.
06:00 — Winter ventilation without insulation.
07:30 — The D.E. Hive ventilation hive.
08:30 — 6mm/quarter-inch shrew-proofing mesh.
08:42 — Blocking top entrances for better winter clustering.
10:55 — Drilled holes in supers (and corks).
12:20 — Holes just below inner cover holds in heat (maybe).

I’ll update this post soon to fill in the details of the pros and cons of everything I discuss in this video.

UPDATE: So let’s fill in a few details, get into the pros and cons here.

Black-painted hives — I got the idea from a guy in Alaska who paints his hives black. So far it’s worked out well for me. No problems. But this winter might be the real test.

Winter ventilation — So my setup for a few hives this winter is simple and maybe risky: A regular inner cover with ventilation rim over top, and that’s it. No hard insulation. No moisture-absorbent material. Not even any hive wrap. Nothing. This may not work. If the hives seem damp, I might dump some burlap over the inner cover to absorb some moisture. We’ll see.

Holes in the super below the inner cover — This is new and it may not work, but I talked about it in a previous post. It’s something I read about in the 1947 edition of The ABC and XYZ of Bee Culture — an encyclopedia of beekeeping knowledge that’s worth hunting down if you can find a cheap copy. (The contemporary edition is absurdly expensive and I’m pretty sure the old timey edition will satisfy most new beekeepers.) Anyway, the idea is to drill a hole about two or three inches (or 7cm) below the inner cover, but the inner cover is a solid piece of wood. No traditional inner cover with an upper entrance. No ventilation of any kind happening through the inner cover. A hard piece of insulation up top, but no upper entrance from the inner cover. By placing the upper entrance / ventilation hole a few inches down from the top, a layer of heat (in theory) will stay trapped at the top of the hive to prevent the bees from freezing together on a really cold days. A bottom entrance (and maybe the bees’ wings) provides enough air current to move that heat down towards the clustering bees. The normal upper entrance at the very top of the hive through the inner cover doesn’t hold the heat in. But move that entrance a few inches down and it creates dead air space that holds in the heat a bit. My only concern is that this might not provide enough ventilation for moist air to escape. The hard insulation up top should prevent condensation from building up, but in Newfoundland — I don’t know. Maybe not. So we’ll see.

There are your pros and cons. Nothing I do is written in stone.