There are many types of Hive, made from an increasing variety of materials, Wood, Polystyrene and more recently Plastic. Most perform well all year round, protecting your bees from the weather and the damp; however sometimes either the weather is so wet and windy or the hive design needs a helping hand to stave off the worst of the weather, so you have to improvise for the sake of your bees.
Here is one way you can help your wooden hives keep out the damp especially from around the joints between the crown-board and the brood chamber, especially when you leave a super on over winter as an eke to feed fondant.
The addition of a “Eke” or “Super” over the winter months means you have two extra horizontal joints that can let water flow into the brood box. This can make the inside of the hive damp and encourage fungus and other spores to grow on your combs and make if more difficult for your bees to stay dry; especially during cold and freezing weather.
A simple strip of waterproof fabric or plastic sheeting can be stitched together about 10″ deep (25cm), and this can then be held in place by the hive roof. This will deflect the rain and water run off from around the joints and improve the water proofing around the hives; during the worst of the winter weather.
As the fabric is not too tight it should allow the wood underneath to dry out and not impede the ventilation of the sides of the brood-box. Just put a single stitch on the corners above the edge of the box; this will stop the skirt from slipping down the hive. Hopefully the bees shouldn’t be too upset about the addition!
When the weather warms up the “skirt” can be easily removed by just lifting the roof, and kept for another year.
The waterproof Skirt held in place by the roof, it shouldn’t be too log as it will impede the entrance and be blown about by high winds.
Here it is shown in use on a small vulnerable colony that needs the extra help over the winter. If you have a “Brood and a half”, or one colony with a brood box and a super (without crown board), and you want to add another crown board and “super” to feed fondant; you can make the strip a bit wider about 16″ (40cm). This means it will hang just below all the joints exposed to the weather.
Insulating your hive
Another way of helping the Colony is to provide a bit more insulation in the roof-space above the crown-board, this can easily be achieved with a suitable sized plastic bag and some bubble wrap, simply put about 1″ (25mm) of bubble wrap in the plastic bag and place in the roof-void above the crown board.
The advantage of the bag is it is easier to manage with gloves on, and does allow some airflow; also you can easily check the status of your fondant below.
All the above “extras” should be removed as the main bee season gets going, as the wooden hives should provide enough protection for “normal” british weather! – WebBee