The weather has been really pleasant for December here in Eastern Indiana. We have experienced some cold nights, but there haven’t been any extended cold weather periods. Most of the hive sites provide the hives some natural cover from North and West winds. At two sites there is no cover, so snow fence was put up last week to provide a wind break. This was a recommendation from several mentors as well as many books. I have been doing it for years.
It hasn’t been cold, but it sure has been damp. Rain has been falling much more frequently than it did all last summer. At present I am glad that most hives have top entrances instead of the Warre attic boxes used in previous years. I had fair overwintering success with the attic boxes, but noticed a lot of mold in the burlap last year after removing them from the hives. This was documented in What to do?. I theorize that the top entrance will allow moisture to escape and prevent such mold problems.
Last winter I lost 3 of 14 hives (21.5%). The winter of 2010 resulted in the loss 2 out of 5 hives (40%). I had planned to experiment with several different overwintering strategies, but due to time constraints 24 hives got top entrances and 6 are sporting a normal inner cover. It will be interesting to compare outcomes both between the groups this year and as compared to previous years strategies.
Is everything ready for winter in your apiary?