Do you know what a quilt box for bees is? It’s something that can help your bees survive the cold winters. We’ll show you step-by-step instructions on how to build one so your bees don’t freeze this winter.
The Beginning Beekeeper
If you are a beginning beekeeper or new to raising bees, winter care and survival is a challenge. Many beekeepers, even seasoned ones, have a hard time with their bee colonies dying in the winter.
Although many things in nature are out of our control, there are measures we can take as beekeepers to help our little friends survive the winter.
What Is A Bee Quilt Box?
A quilt box for bees is a box that you place in their hive. It helps absorb moisture and condensation to help them survive the winter.
Why Do Bees Need A Quilt Box?
During the winter, or when temperatures drop below 50 F degrees, bees seek refuge in their beehive.
As the temperatures drop, the bees continue to work, move their wings, and breathe.
All of these movements and motions generate heat.
This tiny little ‘bee heat’ rises to the top of their beehive and hits the cold frame of their hive.
When this happens, condensation forms little droplets on their ceiling. After the condensation builds, it drops on the bees getting them wet. Much like how we get rain from clouds.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve had to walk outside in the freezing cold right after a shower. My hair froze solid and I had ice on my eyelashes!
A quilt box for your bees will help absorb that condensation. Protecting your bees from getting wet, which causes them to freeze and die.
In addition to adding a quit box, you can learn How To Care For Bees In Winter, and when you should feed them.
One way to help prevent condensation in your hive is to add a bee quilt or a quilt box.
A quilt box for your bees will help absorb the moisture in a hive during the winter. Preventing water from dropping on the colony.
How to Make A Winter Beehive Quilt
Beehive Quilts are a box that is placed on top of the frames of the hive to help absorb moisture.
Typically, quilts are made from a 6 inch honey super. Such as one of the sections in a Langstroth hive.
How Do You Make a Bee Quilt Box?
If you already have extra supers for your beehive, there is very little you have to buy. In fact, you may have all the supplies you need to build a quilt box for your bees.
It is essentially a small box with burlap or screen on the bottom, filled with sawdust, cedar shavings or some other organic material.
The box sets on top of the topmost box the bees inhabit and is said to “absorb moisture” and “retain the nest scent and heat.”
My quilts are made from a 6 inch honey super as seen in the picture above.
With the quilt at the top of my hive, just under the cover, it provides insulation from cold and collects moisture to keep it from dripping on the hive.
Quit Box For Bees Instructions
- Build a frame inside your spare super.
- Attach 1/2″ pine wood strips about 1 inch up from the bottom of your super all the way around on the inside.
- Using a staple gun, staple window screen on the frame you just built.
- Drill 4 ½ inch holes in opposite sides of the super about 2 inches from the top.
- Place the window screen over the holes so bugs can’t get in.
- Lastly, fill the super up with pine shavings or other shavings mentioned above.
Where Should I Put My Moisture Board?
Your moisture board, or quilt box for your bees, should be placed under the top lid of your hive.
When Should A Quilt Box Be Installed?
As soon as the nighttime temperatures get around 50 degrees you need to install a quit box or a moisture board.
Additional Beehive Winter Protection
Lastly, I have another piece of advice to help protect your bees in the winter.
Basically, it’s insulating your beehive from the outside.
In order to add more winter protection to your beehive you can add insulation to the outside much like you do for your own house.
Beehive Winter Protection Instructions
- Cut ½” foam board insulation with aluminum foil on it.
- Line the back and the two sides of the beehive with the insulation.
- Make sure the foam does not cover the holes in the quilt and block the airflow.
- Next, add insulation on the front but only a piece about a foot tall. It covers half of both the brood boxes and the seam between them.
- Then put in an entrance reducer and reduce the entrance to 2 inches.
- I put a mouse guard in the two inch gap made from 1⁄2 hardware cloth.
- Lastly, wrap the whole hive with black weed guard cloth that you can buy for gardens.
The black fabric soaks up the solar heat, blocks wind and most importantly breaths.
- The hive has to breathe.
- I cut a hole in the cloth where the hive entrance is so bees can go in and out for cleansing flights.
Bee Cleansing Flight
Bees are immaculate housekeepers. In fact, during nicer weather they fly outside the hive to use the restroom.
You know when you’re walking outside and feel ‘rain’ on you but there’s not a cloud in the sky? There’s a chance that’s bee pee!
Another cleaning task they perform is the removal of their deceased.
Don’t be alarmed if you see a bunch of dead bees by the entrance of their hive. That’s just a sign that the housekeepers are doing their job and removing the bees that have passed and cleaning their hive.
Last But Not Least- Don’t Forget To Feed Your Bees
As a final step for beehive winter preparation, follow our guide about winter care for your bees and feeding.