Since I published “How I overwintered ten out of ten” several people have asked me what I did with the slatted racks during the winter. Since I always leave slatted racks in place, I didn’t think of them as an overwintering strategy, so I left them off my list.
Now I see that my way of thinking about slatted racks–as a permanent part of the hive–was confusing to people. So I have now added another bullet to my list and it looks like this:
• The slatted racks remained in place in the Langstroth hives all winter long.
Comment: I consider slatted racks basic equipment in Langstroth-style hives, so I never remove them in any season. In summer they provide a place to hang out during hot muggy days, and the queen tends to lay eggs further down on the brood frames–apparently because this area is no longer near the “front door.”
In a traditional winter hive with the Varroa drawer in place, the slatted rack adds an insulating layer of air between the brood nest and the Varroa drawer. This will not exist in the same way with the Varroa drawers pulled out. However, during cold snaps–or other times when the Varroa drawers are in place–the slatted racks again provide a “dead air” space that helps to keep the bees a few degrees warmer.
Thank you to those who mentioned the omission. I appreciate your input.