A healthy bee colony can often survive in winter without any special care. But survival in the wild and beehives have some differences. In a beehive, they need special care to keep them warm, and one effective method is insulation. Insulating beehives help to maintain a stable temperature and minimize heat loss, moisture buildup, and so on to keep the bees safe from harsh weather.
There are many ways to insulate a beehive in winter to ensure the survival and well-being of the bee colony.
How to Insulate a Beehive for Winter
Choose the Right Hive Design
The beehive design should be appropriate to make it insulate efficiently. The hive should have hive covers to add insulation materials. Choose a location that provides some extra protection from wind and direct exposure. And before insulation, inspect any cracks or gaps and repair them.
Use Beehive Insulation Wraps
the market has bubble wraps specially made for insulating beehives in winter. The wraps are made of black plastic sheets with any fluffy fabric. These wraps are cheaper than other insulation equipment and absorb heat from sunlight.
The wrap stays close to the side of the beehive boxes so the wind cannot pass through it.
The wrap also maintains breathability and moisture. Apply two layers and keep some insulating materials between them. You can quickly put it on and take it off.
Foam Board Insulation
Foam board is an insulating material that also works great in winter. It is easy to install, measure the dimension of the hive, and then cut the pieces of foam board to fit it on the pack properly. Attach each piece against the hive and joint them with rope, duct tape, rachet, etc. If there is any exposed area or hole, attach small pieces to cover it.
Use Insulated Beehive Covers
A beehive cover is one of the most essential insulation equipment for frigid winters. The market has various types of covers with different shapes, sizes, and materials that work significantly as an inner covers.
The insulated inner cover fits under the top cover for better protection. The inner cover would be made of foam and wood to prevent heat loss.
Also, you can place a thick layer of straw or hay, sawdust, or wood shavings on top of the inner cover or between the inner and outer cover to ensure warmness. Sawdust and wood shaving absorb excess moisture even in the Langstroth beehive.
Use Beehive Heater
Use an electric heater to keep the beehive warm throughout the winter. They are easy to maintain and almost risk-free for insulation. However, attach a mesh or barrier around the heater to separate it from the honey bees. Battery powered heater or solar panel heater is the best choice.
Using a quilt box is another effective insulation system. Fill the container with wood shavings or sawdust and place it on the top of the hive to absorb moisture throughout the winter. The boxes already have a ventilation system so that moisture can evaporate occasionally.
The package also adds extra space for air flowing to keep it in the hive when the heat rises.
Insulating Bee Hives with Styrofoam
The Styrofoam help to keep the temperature stable inside the hive.
Measure the hive from all sides, cut the Styrofoam panel with a saw or knife, then attach an adhesive to the back of the board. After that, attach the panel to the hive exterior and secure them.
Cover the foam with any weather-resistant material. Repair any unnecessary gaps or damages.
Ventilation and Condensation
Maintaining ventilation around the beehive is crucial. A healthy and active bee colony produces heat and moisture even in the winter month, so condensation forming is needed. Provide plenty of ventilation and don’t cover any hive entrance. Monitor the temperature and humidity levels regularly.
Monitor the Success Rate
After building a perfect insulation system, use an electronic sensor to monitor the hives. It will send data to your mobile. You can also use a stethoscope to find the cluster location to understand where they are losing heat.
What Is The Best Type Of Insulation For Insulating Beehives?
The best insulation for a beehive is any nontoxic or eco-friendly materials that reduce wind chill, maintain breathability and remove moisture from the hive. Some standard insulation is Styrofoam panels, natural fibers like wood shaving, straw or hemp, cardboard, natural cork, etc.
Should You Insulate a Bee Hive?
Insulating a beehive is beneficial in various situations. Insulation systems protect the bees from extreme winter and keep them healthy. Especially wooden Langstroth hives need insulation. Some bees cannot tolerate the cold temperature, requiring insulation throughout the winter.
Small size bee colony needs to maintain the insulation as they generate lower temp.