Are my bees getting enough air?

by Melissa
(Tavares, FL)

Hi, I just started a new bee box, yesterday. My bottom board has a screen, but it's still chilly sometimes, so I applied foam board under the screen.

The only "hole" in the box is the entrance where there is a piece of wood to make the entrance the smallest size. A beekeeper told me this is OK, but I started worrying --how do the bees get enough oxygen in there to survive? Do I need to poke holes in the bottom foam board, or not worry about it?

Thanks, Melissa

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Hi Melissa,

I agree with your beekeeper friend: there's no need to poke holes in the foam bottom board. Your bees will get plenty of air through the entrance hole. Improper ventilation (as opposed to the volume of air entering the hive) is far more detrimental to colony survival than cold temperatures.

For decades, I've wintered my bees with a solid bottom board and a reduced entrance (to prevent the entrance of mice). I always leave a slight opening under the lid for ventilation.

And once upon a time it was common practice to completely wrap hives in thick insulating material for the winter in colder climes, leaving only a small hole for an entrance.

In Florida, though, I really doubt that your foam bottom board is needed. These days, we know that ventilation is more of a critical factor in wintertime survival than temperature.

Best of luck with your beekeeping!

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