Best top bar hive products around
It is important that a beehive is protected from drafts especially in the winter when cold air can blast through the hive causing unnecessary chilling. If you have ever sat by a leaky window on a cold day, you know how cold it can get with even a small amount of cold air blowing in.
Here at Wild Bunch Bees, we ensure that all joints where the different pieces of the hive join together are air-tight. We screw and glue/caulk where there are joints to make sure the hive is strong and tight. Our removable bottom board, which covers up the screen bottom during colder months, has rubber weather stripping around the edges and is attached with machine screws to form a tight seal. No cold air will be getting up under your bee cluster during the winter. Having sealed joints also reduces a lot of pests like small hive beetle and wax moth from entering your hive. Don’t get me wrong, you will never fully prevent these pests from getting in, but reducing the amount of places they can enter will help the bees keep their numbers in check. Also, don’t forget about the robber bees that will find any way to get into your hive and steal honey. We have to keep them out too by closing off cracks.
Other top bar hive designs have wooden or even cheap plastic posterboard bottom boards that slide in and out of a grooved channel, but this design leaves large gaps in the hive body where cold air and pests (wax moths, small hive beetles, and ants) will get in. These types of bottom boards also get stuck easily. The ones made out of posterboard material can warp with moisture and will eventually fall apart. Our bottom boards are made out of 3/4″ pine and are secured tight with machine screws to form an air-tight seal. We recommend you keep the solid bottom board on until nighttime temperatures are consistently above 55°F. However, you should still remove the bottom board every few weeks to clean off debris and check for mites and other pests.
Some people will argue that air sealing prevents adequate ventilation. This is incorrect. Having air leaks all over your house is a horrible way to provide ventilation. Proper air sealing of cracks and proper placement of ventilation intake and exhaust points work together to make your hive warm and dry during the winter. We have two ventilation points at the rear of the hive that work with the 7 entrance holes in the front of the hive to provide ventilation. You should staple the provided 1/8″ hardware cloth to close off the rear ventilation points to keep out pests and robber bees.
Proper ventilation keeps moisture from building up in your hives. This is especially important during the winter when your bees form a tight cluster to keep warm. Honey bees are only but a few insects that survive the winter as a colony. The center of the bee cluster can get up to 98°F as the bees vibrate and the heat generated from this action can create condensation when it contacts a cold surface like the inside walls or top bars of the hive. The problem comes when the condensation drips down on the bees making them cold and wet.
Lastly, many experienced beekeepers will put a wind break in front of their hive in the form of a planted bush or stacked straw bales. This helps keep strong, cold winds from blasting through the front entrance of the hive. Sometimes here at our Wild Bunch apiary we create a windscreen by stapling foil bubble foam wrap over the entrance making sure to leave enough space for adequate air movement.