I grew up in a part of Canada where cold and snow would be a concern for bees. Not so for the Vancouver Island bees. Apparently the biggest concern here is moisture – which can be controlled be ventilation. Yes, enough food for the winter is a concern but, moisture and the resulting chill and mold are deadly.
At a recent CRBA meeting (Capital Region Beekeepers Association) a wide variety of moisture controlling measures where shown. It was with great interest that us new beekeepers took in the information. As always, there were multiple and sometime partially conflicting ideas on how to winterize your bees.
Keeping in mind that I’m talking about Victoria, BC (read lovely, mild, damp in the wintertime climate) I think the best idea was an insulated lid with ventilation pipes. The concept makes a lot of sense. The warm air from the bees rises through the hole in the top cover, passes through the insulated lid via a couple of pipes, cools, condenses and drips out a downward sloping pipe to the back of the hive. Reminds me of one of my favourite teachers talking about the hydrological cycle…except that the condensation in the hive doesn’t form clouds. 🙂
The box sits on top of the inside cover. I also added a shingled roof to help keep the moisture off. A slanted piece of metal would work fine but I had some shingles around so I figured I would finish it nicely.
I’ve been monitoring the effectiveness. It seems to work really well as there is a lot of moisture dripping out the back. But, it does drip a little inside. Someone suggested wood-shavings to absorb the moisture. I’ve used sawdust for now but will track down shavings to work better.
After the winter – seemed to work great! Storage is now a bit issue as I got a little carried away with the shingles etc so it’s a bit larger then it has to be 🙂