Cloth cover for beehive - Bee in Harmony, Rowe Apiaries blog

Preparing for the winter, Part II

The temperatures are dropping below 30F this week… I remember, back in 2008, when I took the beekeeping classes (right after a very warm and dry year of 2007), the only recommendation for preparing the beehives for the winter was to install the mouse guard.

I think that the times have changed. This year the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting (again) a very cold winter. While some Minnesota beekeepers have learned to winterize their hives a few years ago, I recommend we do the same this year in Alabama. Russian beekeepers have done a great job researching different methods, and I read about dozens of them… and yet, we can’t bring our bees up into the attic or dig a cellar for them for the winter. Putting them under the roof would be very nice, but it requires moving them somewhere more than a mile away, so they don’t come back to their old spot. So, this year, for the first time, I am wrapping by beehive in a bubble wrap… Yes, I know, you are going to ask me about that moisture buildup. The answer is, “I don’t know what is going to happen”. Keep on reading my blog, and I guess, we will all find out, eventually. But, before I show you how I wrapped up my remaining two strong colonies, I want to share another thing that Russian beekeepers use: a cloth cover.

A cloth cover is used throughout the year instead of the inner cover. The best thing about it is that you can lift one end without disturbing the colony, instead of announcing your arrival with the big BANG of the unglued inner cover. I keep the cloth cover on October through April, when it is time to expand to double deep super.

The cloth cover is just a piece of cloth, cut out of a canvas or heavy cotton fabric. I make a little hole in the middle to match the hole in the inner cover, which I install over it, since I use feeder bottles hidden inside a shallow super. The bees glue the cover with propolis, and it helps them to regulate the temperature. It also absorbs moisture. I have had great success with cloth covers. Some may find them unnecessary, but I use them because, well, I like using them 🙂

 

 

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