Insulated Hives

Note: I have decided to drop the date from my post titles. It seems unnecessary and in the spirit of keeping this simple, I don’t have to remember what day it is anymore. I hope my readers don’t mind.

New beekeepers often ask whether they should insulate their hives or not. I mentioned previously that I use an insulated cover on my hives to help prevent water from collecting above the bees. Virginia does not normally have cold winters, so whether or not to insulate hives in Virginia is really up to the beekeeper. I generally don’t insulate my normal hives (other than the tops), although I do try to insulate the few nucleus colonies (nucs) I overwinter.

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2202 Nov 19 – Entrance Bees

Our weather has turned cold this week and the bees are huddled up in their hives. If the temperature tops 40 F (4 C) and the sun is on the entrance then I might see a bee or too checking the outdoors, but otherwise they are quiet. Bees are one of the only insects that do not hibernate through the winter. Somewhere out there, wasp and bumblebee queens are nestled into leaves or a hole in the ground waiting for spring. Not so for honey bees.

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2022 Oct 29 – Hive Covers

Virginia is not so cold that we need to insulate our hives in the winter. I’m sure some folks do, though the temperatures do not get really cold for long stretches typically. A box of honey on top of a regular hive and they are usually good to go. My view is that insulation would probably help, who doesn’t like an extra blanket on those cold winter days? So even though I don’t insulate most of my hives, I do give them an insulated cover.

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2022 Oct 22 – Bees on Cosmos

It may be fall, and may be cold (cool?) in Virginia, but the bees forage on. This week I was walking around the yard and found bees visiting the cosmos flowers that have bloomed recently. I planted some last year, and they self seeded to produce the flowers in this post. I was pleased to see a couple bees on them, probably looking for pollen. Cosmos is a good late-blooming flower. It is an annual though as you see here it can self-seed in future years.

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2022 Oct 2 – Hive Beetle Larva

While feeding one of my top bar hives last week, there was some debris in the back of the hive. This was separate from the actual comb and bees, and some small hive beetles had apparently laid some eggs in there. I’m pretty sure the bees would have kept the larva out of the hive and they would likely have died in the eventual cold, but I scooped it out with my hive tool and crushed the little buggers just to be sure.

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2022 Sep 24 – Hive Beetles

One of my nuc feeders sits on top of the hive with a floating platform for the bees, kind of like this one but smaller. The bees are a little annoyed when I open it up, probably because I am disturbing their home. They are pretty gentle, still, especially for late in the year.

I always take the floater out before so I can clean out any debris or dead bees before adding more syrup, and invariably find a few top bar beetles crawling around the inside.

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