Nancy of Shady Grove Farm in Kentucky has a problem with large temperature swings. As she puts it, “We are subject to -20º F one day and +60º F the next.” With such unpredictable weather, she wanted an insulating cover/windbreak for her beehives that was easy to remove.
So Nancy designed a bee cozy made from half-inch thick Dow Board, a type of rigid foam insulation, and Tyvek tape. The cozies are easy to put on and take off so she can easily change the orientation depending on conditions: “The backs of my hives face the hillside but that’s also where the prevailing winds come from. So I will mostly use them across the back. But if we have a nasty east wind, they could just as easily go around the front.”
According to Nancy, a sheet of Dow Board is 4 feet by 8 feet, the same as plywood, and the half-inch size has an insulation value of R-4. Other thicknesses are available, so you could easily increase the R-value.
Here are the steps:
- First she had to rearrange the cinder blocks under the hives so the cozy would fit down over them.
- Next she measured the back and sides of each hive. From the Dow Board, she cut one back and two sides for each hive.
- She laid the three pieces flat, butted together, and made “inside hinges” with the tape.
- Next she folded the pieces together and made “outside hinges” (so the cozy will fold up) with two overlapping lengths of tape.
- She taped all the exposed edges for better wear.
- Finally, she made holes in the upper and lower front corners and the middle front and installed grommets. She uses an elastic cord to hold them across the front.
She notes that the cozies are too tall right now but will fit perfectly when the feeder rim is on. She will leave the moisture quilt uncovered for top ventilation.
Nancy paid about $22 for one board. A board is enough to cover two hives, each consisting of two deeps or three mediums. The tape was about $13 and enough for all 5 of her hives.
Since this is a try-it, Nancy wants feedback. She writes, “Please let me know if this is not clear. I would be very grateful for your comments because this is completely experimental. I wish everyone and their colonies a productive fall and a safe, secure winter. And thanks for all your insights and encouragement.”
So, what do you think? Please let us know.
Shady Grove Farm