Preparing a top-bar hive for winter
In spite of all the winter alterations I’ve made to my Langstroth hives, I’ve never done anything to my top-bar hive. Previously, when the temperature dipped into the 20s for more than a day or two, I’ve moved it into the garden shed, a space I keep in the 40s so things don’t freeze. I don’t like this method, mostly because I need help moving the hive, but also because I have to keep monitoring the outside temperature and deciding when to move it. And when the hive is in there, I have no room.
This year I’m going to do three things to the top-bar hive to make it similar to the overwintering Langstroths:
- Add a feeder eke above the top bars
- Add a woodchip-filled quilt box above the feeder
- Add ventilation holes to the gable ends of the roof
I’ve never needed a feeder eke before because the gabled roof is hollow, which provides plenty of space above the top bars for syrup-filled baggies, sugar cakes, and pollen patties. But adding a quilt box will close access to the “attic” space, so a feeder eke below the quilt box will be necessary if I want to feed.
Since the hive is large (approximately 36 inches by 20 inches) I am going to add two cross pieces on the inside of both the eke and the moisture quilt so they don’t fold into parallelograms.
The thing I haven’t figured out is how to keep the hive aligned when the finished parts are stacked in place. The roof is telescoping, but when you put a telescoping roof over a shallow eke, it gets kind of squirrelly and slides out of place easily. With two shallow ekes below it, it will be even worse.
I’ve thought of using a hook and eye on each end of the roof, but I don’t know if they come long enough to reach from the roof to the hive body. I’ve also thought of using a tie-down. It’s the raccoons and possums that are most likely to knock the roof off—and there are plenty of them around. So until the hive is propolized into a unit, I will need to hold it together somehow.
So I’ve measure the hive, drawn a sketch, and now I’m off to buy 1 x 3-inch boards. I already have a hole saw*, hardware cloth to cover the vents, and all the necessary fasteners, such as screws, nails, and staples.
This doesn’t seem like a difficult project. Besides deciding how to critter-proof the roof, the hardest part will be finding 1 x 3-inch lumber, which my local Home Depot doesn’t always keep in stock.
*Please note: Microsoft Word keeps trying to make this read “whole saw.” I actually have a whole saw—a whole hole saw—but try convincing Microsoft of that.