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.

Further north there is an argument to be had that insulation is required, especially in and near Canada where the weather can be too cold for flying for 4-6 months. In Virginia, we often get days with temperatures above 50 F (10 C) even in the middle of winter. So the bees tend to get a lot of breaks from their huddling in the hive. It is December here and we just had a short period above 50 F today, so I’m sure some bees were outside their hives.

For my nucs with only 5 frames across, it seems prudent to insulate. Definitely not required, but I’m sure it helps the ladies maintain the temperature and get to their food when needed. Here is a one of my three nucs that I’m am overwintering this year. It has a migratory cover which gets in the way of the insulation as you can see. I have two layers of insulation on top, plus a plastic political sign to keep the water off.

As you can see, the bottom box is not actually insulated (it is four boxes tall). Heat rises, and so will the bees, so I think they will be (bee?) okay.

May you prosper and find honey.

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