bees wintered in building

by bob
(new york)

My bee hives are kept in a building with open ends so they can come and go as they please..we have bad winters and often lose bees because of it... the hives can't get wet and it is easier to keep them alive over the winter by keeping them from the elements ...they seem to be happy with this arrangement ...aside from wrapping the hives in winter is there another method of keeping the hives safe over the winter? Should I close in the building over the winter?

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Hi Bob,

I've spent all my beekeeping life in Texas, where the winters are obviously much milder than NY. So I probably can't speak to your question with great authority.

I do know that bringing bees inside for winter is an age-old practice. The famous old-time beekeeper Dr. C.C. Miller used to winter many of his hives in an enclosed cellar.

But I don't think the practice is as prevalent as it once was. And I'm going to guess that many northern beekeepers would say it's unnecessary. But as long as the bees can fly freely for cleansing flights on days when the weather permits, I wouldn't think it does any harm.

What wasn't known back in the old days, and that we do know now, is that lack of ventilation and CO2 and moisture buildup are the real enemies of bee colonies in the winter, not temperature. Bees can survive almost any extreme of cold as long as they have sufficient stores, and as long as the hive is sufficiently ventilated.

Click here to read more about the importance of ventilation for wintering

Hope this helps, and good luck with your beekeeping.

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