The Bee Cosy and Me
Hello, I'm Chris Wray, I started beekeeping in the Summer of 2009 after receiving 5 frames of bees following attending a local beekeeping course. After the Winter of 2009 I suffered the loss of this, my first colony.
How could this happen? I had checked their stores in Autumn and hefted in early 2010, but clearly I had not judged how much stores they needed and how low their stores had been.
Whilst my apiary is well protected from Northerly winds, it is exposed to the East and is at an altitude of 800ft just beneath Beamsley Beacon.
Whilst I waited for a possible new colony, I knew I didn't have years of experience, so I looked for a better way to manage a hive of bees over winter. I started exploring ways to measure the level of stores using in-place scales and researched hive insulation.
A new colony arrived in early Summer 2010 and to prepare for winter a simple hive cover using Kingspan was built. I also installed the in-place scales I had developed, took a weight reading in late autumn and developed a simple spreadsheet to calculate the combined weight of the colony and stores. I calculated this to be total hive weight less hive equipment (roof, brood box, crown, etc) less drawn comb.
Whilst the BBKA advocates at least 18Kg of stores; in the severe winter of 2010 with the help of Kingspan insulation, a healthy colony, with mostly heather honey stores and a new queen went through a difficult winter from early November 2010 to the end of March 2011 with only 8.2Kg of stores
Since the middle of 2011, I have been experimenting with different ways to insulate my hives with a breathable, waterproof solution that has the right level of insulation. The result is the Bee Cosy.
I hope the Bee Cosy helps you provide a more natural and better environment for your bees.