Protection From the Elements: Giving Your Bees a Bigger Edge
In this lesson, you’ll learn about the final principle of wintering: Protect your hives from the elements. You’ll also discover why it’s important to protect your bees from the elements along with an easy way to accomplish this.
What Dangers Do My Beehives Face During the Winter?
You might think that bees can survive outside during the winter because most beekeepers traditionally leave their hives out. You’d be correct that it’s possible for your bees to survive without protection.
It’s certainly true that honey bees don’t need beekeepers to survive. Honey bees survived for many centuries before beekeepers were even part of the picture. They’ve proven that they can survive just fine without us.
However, our mentality is that we want to give our bees every possible chance to survive. We don’t believe in taking chances so we move our bees into a sheltered place where they can avoid the worst of the snow, cold, wind, and other dangers they’ll face throughout the winter.
Cold & Moisture
Think about it for a minute. If you have a beehive covered with wet snow in cold temperatures with a sizable wind chill, will that hive survive as well as one that is provided shelter all winter long?
Hopefully, you answered “No”.
The beehive in the snow is going to have to fight a lot more cold, wind, and moisture than the protected hive. The chances of this hive surviving are much lower than one that’s protected.
When you take a step back, this is a very logical line of thinking. It’s the same for any other animal. Humans and farm animals don’t survive as well out in the cold, wet weather. Neither do honey bees.
In addition to the cold and moisture, the “snow hive” mentioned above has the potential to get disrupted or even destroyed by animals that prowl around during the winter.
Deer are a prime example of an animal danger beehives may face during the winter. We have deer that frequently come onto our property during the winter and each time they pass the hive, there’s a chance that they could knock the hive over or even just knock the lid off. If that happens, the bees will lose the heat they’ve been storing and will die.
The best way to prevent this from happening is to provide a safe place for the bees where the deer and other animals can’t get to them.
What Can I Do To Protect My Bees From These Dangers?
As mentioned before, we move our bees into a sheltered space (namely our barn) for the wintertime. Our barn offers great protection for our bees because it’s difficult for animals to get near enough to disturb them and it protects the hive from the elements.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a barn though. Other ideal places to shelter your hive could include a tool shed or a garage (assuming it’s not heated up too much).
Note: If these aren’t an option, you might try reaching out to a friend or family member to see if they’d be willing to let you store your hive at their place during the winter.
Regardless of where you store your bees, the location should be a relatively low-traffic place that’s sheltered from wind, moisture, and animals. As long as it meets these criteria, you should be fine.
Now that we’ve discussed protecting your hives from the elements, let’s head over to the last lesson where we’ll recap everything you’ve discovered in this lesson.
Also, as a special bonus, you’ll also get access to some free resources we’ve put together for you to help you as you winter your hives!