My Overwintering Experiment begins in April

the man in the youtube video just sat on the hive and the sides slid right in to place. that totally didn’t work for me. even after i realized that i was using the wrong pieces, i still spent time almost jumping to get the thing assembled. sturdy.

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. (
  • 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.

Follow along through my Instagram!

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