I had an opportunity to hear Mike Palmer from French Hill Apiaries in St. Albans, VT speak in November 2014 about keeping bees in the frozen north. Typically a Vermont winter would be as bad or worse than ours here in the Kalamazoo area. After the winter of 2013 I found myself re-thinking overwintering in Michigan. Although I have kept bees through ten winters, none had ever been as severe as that winter.
I never bothered to do anything special for overwintering, like wrapping the hives because it didn’t seem to make any difference either way. Well, 2013 changed all that. I lost all my hives that winter. It just got too cold. Traditionally beekeepers at or above the 45th parallel always have to wrap hives. Beekeepers at or below the 40th parallel don’t need to do anything special for overwintering. Here we find ourselves at the 43rd parallel, which means sometimes we need to and sometimes we can get away without. I decided that it is better to be safe than sorry. From now on, I will prepare like I am further north, which brings me back to Mike Palmer. Vermont is mostly a bit further north than us, so what works for him, ought to work for us.Continue Reading