Questions with Mike Palmer
Mike Palmer Answers Your Questions
Mike Palmer keeps bees at French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans. We are grateful that he has agreed to answer questions on beekeeping in Vermont, his workload permitting.
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Jimmy Kalp writes:
Hey Mike: I've got an 8 frame English garden hive, and I'm curious about winter ventilation. I've got a metal mouse guard on, and wrapped th hive with black tar paper, but I'm curious about the top ventilation...what's the best technique?
I wasn't really sure just what an English garden hive is. So, I looked in the Brushy Mountain catalog. Seems it's a standard Langstroth hive with a reversible bottom board...maybe a screened bottom board, and a standard inner cover...called a crown board on the other side of the pond. I believe winter ventilation in your English garden hive, can be handled in the same manner as I do with my Langstroth hives.
Proper ventilation is critical in the wintering of honey bees in the north. Cold doesn't kill honey bee colonies, but excessive moisture does. Increasing ventilation, and insulating the inner cover allows excess moisture to to escape the hive before it condenses and drips on the bees.
Starting at the bottom, I never reduce the size of the entrance. Rather than using a wooden reducer set at a small opening, I use the Mraz entrance screen. Just a piece of 1/2" hardware cloth, cut 4" wide by the width of the bottom entrance. Folded into a "V", the screen is wedged into the bottom entrance. The screen provides ample mouse protection and hive ventilation...when combined with an upper entrance and inner cover insulation. The inner cover is notched to provide an upper entrance, and 2" foam is cut to inner cover dimensions, and placed on the inner cover.
The hive is then wrapped with 15 lb felt...tarpaper...which is tucked up and under the outer cover. An opening is cut in the paper, unblocking the inner cover notch.