Winter Preparation: National Management Survey 2010-2011

The 2011 survey asked beekeepers about methods used to prepare colonies for winter. Winter losses were reduced by the use of an upper entrance and equalization of colony strength. No other reported winter preparation technique had a measurable effect.

Winter Preparation

On the 2011 National Management Survey, beekeepers where asked if and to specify how they prepared their colonies for the winter of 2010-2011. Options included the following:

  • Create or engage an upper entrance
  • Wrap colonies with insulation
  • Wrap colonies with tar paper or wintering sleeve
  • Place extra insulation on top of colony
  • Place mouse guard at entrance
  • Equalize colony strength
  • Move colonies to southern location
  • Move colonies to inside wintering buildings
  • I do not prepare my colonies for winter
  • Other (please specify)

When examining any type of winter preparation, average loss suffered by beekeepers in the United States who did prepare their colonies for winter (2,492 beekeepers) and those who did not prepare their colonies (528) showed no significant differences. This difference remained not statistically significant when looking at losses within the Northern and Southern regions. However, when looking at the individual practices, some methods for preparing for winter impacted survivorship, see Figure. Practices that decreased winter loss: Engaging an upper entrance decreased winter loss (31.7 vs. 38.5%; a difference of 6.8 colonies per 100); Equalizing colony strength decreased winter loss (33.5 vs 39.1% loss; a difference of 5.6 colonies per 100). All other practices had no measurable effect.

Figure. Average loss suffered by beekeepers who used various winter preparation techniques. Techniques that show significant differences are; use of an upper entrance, equalization of colony strength, a mouse guard, and extra insulation in the lid.


This information is for educational purposes only. References to commercial products or trade names do not imply endorsement by the Bee Informed Partnership or its members. The results presented here are the summary of the population who responded. The sample may not be representative of the beekeeping population at large. These results simply highlight differences in the sample population. The results cannot be considered conclusive, causative, protective, or attest to product efficacy or lack of efficacy.


Management Survey 2010 – 2011

How average losses were calculated and presented | Watch a vlog here

Appendix items

Download the complete reports in the list below

Winter Preparation

All survey reports listed here: Bee Informed National Management Survey 2010-2011

5 thoughts on “Winter Preparation: National Management Survey 2010-2011

  1. Pingback: Survey Says, September 2012 | Bee Informed Partnership

  2. I appreciate this survey and the results are illuminating but by upper entrance what exactly do you mean? Would this be a full upper entrance open through the winter or merely an entrance in an inner cover. Thanks.

    • From what I’ve seen is a migratory top with shims (one on each side) which lift one side up a crack to allow bees in and out but also allows moisture to escape the hive. Ive seen this in Michael Bush’s “The Practical Bee Keeper”

      Ive not yet tried it but have put a spacer above the inner cover with holes drilled in the sides for upper venalation.

      • The notch on the inner cover is enough of an upper entrance in the winter for both a bee exit/entrance and as a ventilation hole for the beneficial venting of high moisture water from the bees’ respiration.

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