Single Brood Chambers – Winter Preparation

Hey there. We’ve done a video on managing colonies as a single brood chamber. That video focused mostly on what you do through the spring and summer. Now, we’re in the fall of the year it’s November 11th we’re preparing to wrap our hives up for the winter. So, I just want to touch back on management methods to get singles through the winter, because that’s the biggest concern with managing bees in one box. We have fed our hives very heavily, so they’re almost impossible to pick up they feel like they’re bolted to the ground. We feed four imperial gallons of sugar syrup to each hive, so they’re quite heavy going into the winter. We’ve medicated the colonies and one advantage when you’re working with a single brood chamber is your Apivar strips or whatever miticide you’re using is just going into one box. You don’t have to separate two boxes to get that applied, so we make sure the mite levels are low, they have a good queen in them and that they have lots of food going into winter. By feeding that much in the fall, we don’t have to do any kind of feeding in the winter or even any in the spring. 

Occasionally they’ll get late enough in the spring when we do need to do a little bit of feeding but that’s not and most years we don’t have to do that. So, getting them ready for winter here, what we’ve done already is we’ve put an entrance reducer in the bottom so that reduce drafts getting into the hive and also keeps mice out, but in a single brood chamber hive rarely have any problems with mites because the bees are clustered right here. And that’s enough to keep the mice away because the bees are also right there. They do a really great job of cleaning up the bottom board so we never have to clean at the bottom board the bees, do that work for us. In a double brood chamber you get a lot of dead bees dropping onto the bottom and they’re far away from the cluster. And so they rot and mold and get pretty stinky. So, this is a nice advantage of using a single brood chamber hive. You know, beyond that, the way we wrap them and treat them is pretty much the same as you would with a double. 

It’s not that difficult to do when we harvest the fall, honey, though we do have to feed immediately after taking the fall honey because there’s very often not much honey in that brood chamber so that timing is really critical there. So, as far as wrapping them up, though, we have the reducer in, we have an upper entrance on the box here because we use this canvas inner cover so we can’t have a notch in that to provide an upper entrance. We’ve already scraped all the top bars here to get any excess wax off so that when we put this insulation on, it sits down nicely and it’s not pushed up so it’s working as an effective insulator. We use an inch and a half of R7.5 insulation. This is a good durable product here. So, then we place the winter wrap on the colony. What we use here is a corrugated plastic wrap. Our local beekeeping association, the Wellington County Beekeepers’ Association get these made up and sell them. So, they’re quite popular here in Ontario. So, we have an upper entrance hole drilled through that wrap that corresponds with the entrance to the hive. 

We get that down there and we want to make sure there’s no space in here. If there if there’s any extra space in there, you’ll get mite moving up into that area. So, we just close that over, put the lid on the hive and the lid just fits on at the back to kind of propped up at the front and we place a brick on the hive. We then just leave the bees alone for the entire winter. In the spring, we’ll come around and tip them, make sure that they have some weight to them in case we need to do any spring feeding. But we leave these wraps on as long as possible. It’s possible just take them off and do any bee can eat in the spring and cover them up again. But we’ll leave these on into May so they help keep the hives warm and allow more bees to be out foraging and less need to stay home to keep the brood warm. It’s basically the same as you would winter a double brood chamber hive with the exception of the timing of getting that feed on very quickly after you take the honey super off and everything else is just advantages as far as I’m concerned.