Who wants to increase their early spring colony sizes? Surely I’m not the only one, right? Splitting can be a great increase and mite mitigation strategy.
This year I’m trialing polystyrene brood boxes. Why? Because I can. Here’s the train of thought and timeline that lead to polystyrene as a potential solution.
- My bees spend the winter in 3 medium or 2 deep boxes plus a coroplast wrap, notched inner cover, and foam insulation inside the outer cover. Because I’ve purchased on an as-needed basis, my woodenware inventory has never been very consistent. Notches and bottom boards in particular span a wide variety.
- My very diversified farmer friend in Colorado has a lot of hives. He went from very few winter survivors to very many winter survivors when he switched from wooden hives to poly hives. Think along the lines of 10% to 90%. He told me this days before the tornado came.
- A tornado sucked away my woodenware. My ELAP money has arrived, so now I can thoughtfully choose how to replace the 6 hives that I lost.
- A former Iowan finished her study on winter survival of wrapped, insulated hives compared to bare wooden hives. This was already my practice, and seeing the results of the study — the amount of bees, food consumption, and cluster temperature — affirms my practice. (https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0266219)
- But, I am tired of storing the wraps and foam boards. The wraps are really awkward to transport, too.
- I can replace the wood with poly for less money and potentially free up storage space depending on how the poly compares to wrapped, insulated hives. I can’t find research that compares these two overwintering methods, so I’m going to compare them.
- I’m attempting to keep everything equal with respect to queen genetics and age and overall management. My friend Ruth has a place for these hives and I can’t wait to see what happens.
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