Insulated Cover/Feeder

November is the month that we like to get out to the hives and add some supplemental feeding for our bees.  They do have quite a bit of honey in there already, but we want to make sure that they have plenty of extra food just in case we get hit with another hard winter like last year.  There are several ways to feed bees during the winter, and this year we are trying an experiment — a homemade insulated cover/feeder.

I have seen other people make insulated covers, which I have wanted to do but have neither had the extra lumber laying around nor the cash to run out and buy some.  So I looked at what I have and came up with a method that just might work AND includes space for “Mountain Camp Feeding.”  Mountain camp feeding is a method that uses a sheet of newspaper on top of the hive frames and is topped with dry, white sugar.  The sugar is lightly spritzed so the bees don’t immediately try to haul it out like the trash.  One of the advantages of mountain camp feeding is that it’s really easy to set up — no mixing sugar and water to make sugar cakes or syrup.  Another advantage is that the dry sugar will help absorb extra moisture in the hive caused by the bees’ warmth and condensation on the inside of the hive.  If the bees get wet, they die, so I’m hoping this feeding method will help them out a bit.

To turn a regular “super” hive box into an insulated cover/feeder, all you’ll need is an empty super, 4 finishing nails, a hammer, 2 pieces of 1″ thick foam insulation board (cut to size), and supplies for mountain camp feeding (newspaper cut to size, white sugar, and a spray bottle of water).  Measure 2 inches down from the top of the super and hammer in four finishing nails, one near each corner (but not right in the corner).  These nails will hold the foam board in place and keep a space open below it for the feeding section.

Once you’ve got your super and feeding supplies ready, open the hive and place the empty super on top of the hive.  Then add the piece of newspaper, making sure there is space along the sides for the bees to get up and around to access the sugar.  Spritz the newspaper a little bit to allow the sugar to stick to it.  Add dry white sugar — I didn’t measure how much I put in each hive, but it was probably about an inch or so thick.  Lightly spritz the sugar — this will create a crust on it so the bees will eat it instead of taking it out of the hive.  Next, gently insert the two pieces of foam board, and put the inner and outer cover on the hive as usual.  (Please watch the video to get a good idea on how I did all of this.)

I would love to here how you choose to feed your bees during the winter.  Please share in the comments below!  Be sure to hop over to our YouTube channel and click the “Subscribe” button.  We’re trying to reach the 100 subscriber milestone before the end of 2014!  Thanks for your help!