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Info sheet "How to Use Your Quiltbox/ Winterizing Tips"


Condensation in the hive can be a big problem over the winter.  As the bees breathe and produce heat, they create moisture inside the hive.  When moisture builds up too much, it can collect on the inner cover and rain back down on your bees.  When the temperatures dip below freezing, the wet bees will freeze to death.  The Rocky Mountain Bee Supply quilt box is designed to mitigate moisture in the hive by:  giving moisture a place to go, absorbing the moisture, increasing ventilation in your hive, while at the same time providing insulation for the top.

Fall:  Before freezing temperatures begin, place the quilt box as the upper-most box on your hive, either over the top deep, a top honey-super (if you left one for your bees), or a candy board.  Cut a rectangular piece of burlap about 2 to 3 inches larger than the box and place it inside the box over the screened bottom.  Make sure the burlap comes up the sides of the box, but is well below the metal vents. 

Fill the box with dry wood shavings (horse stall bedding is perfect) up to the edge of the burlap, but well below the metal vents.  Cover with your inner cover, then top with your telescoping top cover.

Early Spring:  If you get a calm day above 55 degrees, go in and check your shavings…if they are soaking wet, remove them and replace with dry.

Spring:  When the temperatures are well above freezing, remove the box and store for next winter.  If the burlap liner is too wet or propolized, you can cut it up for smoker fuel and cut a fresh one for next winter.  Dump out the wet shavings.  You may also leave the box on during Spring, Summer, and Fall if you remove just the burlap and the shavings…the box will act as further ventilation in the warmer months. 

Care of Your Quilt Box: Like any other piece of woodenware, your quilt box must either be painted or given several coats of tung oil to preserve the wood and keep it from rotting and warping.  If using paint, any outdoor latex paint will work.  Do at least two coats for optimal protection.

Winterizing Tips

  • Condensation/Moisture:Quilt boxes help keep moisture out of your hives and are a particularly important tool to keep your bees alive over the winter.  Bees can survive very cold temperatures if they are dry; however, bees that are wet will not survive freezing temperatures.
  • Remember:Never feed liquid feed inside the hive during freezing temperatures.    The bees will not eat it.  2.  Liquid feed exacerbates moisture in the hive.
  • Always Remove Any Queen Excluders Over the Winter: You don’t want your queen getting trapped beneath a queen excluder when the bees have to move up into the honey stores over the winter…she will die if she gets left behind.
  • High Winds: Keep your hives ratchet strapped together to keep high winds from toppling them or flipping your cover off and exposing your bees. 
  • Snow: after a snowstorm, go out and clear snow from the hole in the entrance reducer to keep fresh air circulating into the hive.
  • Insulation: If your hives are located above 7000 ft or you live in a high wind area with little wind break, consider wrapping your hive with blankets or foam board or using a winter hive wrap like a Bee Cozy.  Some people will stack straw bales around the sides and back of the hive (don’t block the front) to create a wind break from cold driving winds.
  • Reduce the Entrance: Don’t forget to reduce your entrance down to the smallest hole to 1. Help the bees thermoregulate the temperature inside the hive and 2. To keep mice and other small creatures from using your hive as a winter den.
  • Bottom Boards: Consider switching to a solid bottom board or block off a screened bottom board to help your bees thermoregulate the temperature of the hive during the winter.
  • Mice a Problem? If mice are a problem, consider using a metal entrance reducer to keep them out of your hive over the winter.
  • Extra Food: Most bees in Colorado run out of honey stores sometime around January and February and can quickly starve to death; nothing really starts blooming until mid to late April.  If your bees did not have two deeps (90 to 100 lbs.) of honey going into the winter, they should have a candy board for extra food.  It’s also a good idea to make extra sugar cake, winter patties, or fondant to pop in their candy board when you get a warm day in late winter/early spring for a peek to see how full their food is.
  • Varroa Mite Treatment: Always do a thorough mite treatment after you pull honey supers in the fall and before you winterize your hive.  Mites do their most damage and kill more hives during the winter, so it is vital to make sure you treat in the fall and plan to treat again in early spring when the bees  do not have a lot of capped brood.
  • Planning: Think about splitting a robust, healthy hive in the spring before they have a chance to swarm.  Prepare your equipment for your split and gather the necessary items you will need.
  • Education: Plan on attending intermediate beekeeping classes that will help you grow as a beekeeper.  Early spring is a great time to take classes on splitting, varroa mite treatment, queen rearing, honey harvest etc.

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