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Making A Winter Quilt For The Bees

October 05, 2011

So winter is fast approaching and the bees are already starting to prepare for the winter. Like me, their activity level slows down and they rarely go out unless its a nice day. As the temperature drops I usually pull out the winter quilts, so I thought that the bees should have one too. One of the reasons the bees might die over the winter is being hit by cold drops of water. As the bees heat up the inside of the hive by flexing their wing muscles, the heat rises and hits the cold top of the hive causing condensation. Sometimes this condensation freezes and then melts, dropping deadly cold water on the bees. I read on one the of most informative beekeeping sites on the web www.honeybeesuite.com  about this moisture quilt box that was easy to build and could prevent it. Here are a few pics of the build. [caption id="attachment_472" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="moisture quilt box step one"]moisture quilt box[/caption] Making a basic box with 2 x 1 pine, Drilling 1" holes for ventilation and covering them with hardware cloth (from an old window screen) then stapling stretched canvas on the bottom. Rusty from Honeybeesuite paints her boxes but I'm lazy. [caption id="attachment_473" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="moisture quilt box step 2"]moisture quilt box[/caption] My addition to the box was to add the center piece with ventilation holes. I was concerned that the canvas would sag when the wood chips were added. The wood chips were the most expensive part of the box, total cost, less than $5.00 [caption id="attachment_474" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="moisture quilt box step 3"]moisture quilt box[/caption] The idea is that the heat rises up through the canvas and wood chips and condenses on the top of the hive but then drips on to the wood chips. The ventilation holes provide airflow for the moisture to evaporate. [caption id="attachment_476" align="aligncenter" width="400" caption="moisture quilt box on hive"]moisture quilt box[/caption] This seems like it will work great. After installing the box on top of the hive adn covered it with the lid. After a cold day I inspected it to find the condensation was on the lid and not on the canvas!  Next one built will include a removable top cover to avoid spillage. [caption id="attachment_475" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="moisture quilt box spillage"]moisture quilt box[/caption] I watched the bees coming and going and notice quite a diverse variety of coloring of the bees. Check out this video with some black bees (around 1:25). [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rAvvAHTPaQ]


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