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  1. Just finished installing the insulation to the rest of my hives mounted on migratory pallets. I began with insulating just a row of 3 which is half of a migratory pallet to observe how the bees responded. There was a notable increase in activity over and above the other hives. On cold days in the 40's this group of hives would be out flying and still foraging while the others were dormant. I am NOT trying to encourage more activity. Typically, it is best for the bees to cluster up in there hives during the beginning or the Winter and stay there with PLENTY of stocks or honey, pollen, water, with the occasional foray outing on very warm days. Unfortunately, in our area, the weather patterns have gone haywire and just a few days ago it was in the mid 70's. Even during the Fall and lead into Winter, the temps were in the 80's. Once cool & cold weather did arrive, it would be cool or cold for a few days followed by several days in the upper 60's and 70's, even nearing 80 a time or two. This is VERY hard on honey bee colonies as the break cluster during the warm times and must recluster when the cold returns. They are not equipped or designed to do this repeatedly. Each time they recluster, they may not cluster up directly in contact with their food stores. In an extremely cold snap, they can and DO starve and/freeze to death. I have already lost a weak nuc that finally lost too many bees and did not have enough to make a cluster big enough to keep warm. I found a sub- tennis ball sized cluster all nice and cozy tight.........deader than a door nail centered over uncapped sugar syrup. A few days earlier when it was warm and I was installing sugar patty strips in each hive they were doing fine and were even a bit defensive of their hive. In circumstance such as this, in my opinion, I think it best to do all that one can to alleviate as many stressors to the honey bees as one can. That means ensuring they have been properly treated for mite, have plenty of food stores, if they don't, supplement with sugar patties, fondant, even dry sugar, and provide pollen substitute feed. You want to minimize or eliminate any possible drafts but not so much that here is no ventilation in the hive. (ie: close up the screened bottom board and repair any holes in the hive boxes. Adding insulation can be yet another VERY effective measure. I install a Mann Lake Winter inner cover that has a 1 inch thick urethane foam board sheet of insulation in it to minimize heat losses from the hive top. These covers have a knotch cut in the bottom side for the bees to use as an upper entrance/exit.......it is also an excellent vent that the guard bees can control by propylizing it as they need to in order to keep in as much heat as possible but still allow enough ventilation to prevent condensation and mold building up. On some of my hives that stand alone, I install Bee Cozy's which are insulation jackets that go around the each hive. On the migratory pallets, I found that using 48 inch wide double bubble insulation wrap that has been folded in on itself in equal thirds makes a nice 3 layer thick x 16" wide hive wrap. I will do my best to get out in the apiary tomorrow and take some pics so you guys can have a better idea of what I am describing.
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