Winter Losses

Here in the Pacific NW, the biggest problem with keeping bees alive during the winter and spring months is the rain!!! I wish I could send some of it south to my bees in Sonoma County.  I have been experimenting with several ways to winter bees. One of the best ways, either here or in California is the use of follower boards (dummy boards). These are placed at frame spaces number one and 10. Besides making our 10 frame boxes more versatile, by allowing us to use the boxes as nucs and growing from 5 to 8 frames without giving the bees too much to keep warm, the follower boards help with winter wetness. There is much condensation in the hives that normally collects on the inner cover or lid and rains back down on the bees. With follower boards convection causes the dampness to be drawn to the sides and fall down between the inner side of the boxes and the outer side of the follower board. This keeps the bees drier and stops mold from forming. While I have found some online to purchase, I make mine. Here’s the easy way to construct them:  take a top bar and attach it with three screws to the top of a board the size of a frame body, cut from 1/2 inch plywood. Besides rerouting the moisture, the follower boards are a great space that is created, when removed from the boxes, whether filled with bees or honey frames.  By removing the follower board, we make room to manipulate the remaining frames without crushing bees or maybe a queen!


follower board