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How many Boxes should your Hive have in the Winter?
It's always confusing...how many boxes should I have on my hive going into winter? How many is too many? What do the bees actually need? These are common questions!
The video above describes each configuration, along with the pros and cons of each. But, in a nutshell, here are a few key points to keep in mind in regards to the number of boxes on a hive during the late fall and winter months:
1. During the late fall & early winter, wax moth and SHB larva are largley dormant, posing no significant threat to comb or hives. So, some excess space isn't at risk from these pests.
2. If bees are filling at least 25% of a box with bees and is 25% or more full of honey, it's fine to leave on over the winter.
3. Bees don't keep the entire inside of their hive warm, only their cluster inside the hive. Having a bit of excess space won't significantly impact the temperature of the cluster.
4. All that being said, it is still a best management practice to have only the space on a hive it actually needs. In general, 1 deep and 1 medium, or 2 deeps is perfectly sufficient for a hive overwintering. If your hive has that and has a 3rd box at least 25% full of bees & honey, it's perfectly fine to leave it on over the winter.
5. Don't forget, remove queen excluders by October 1st!