When bad weather is coming, sailors use the phrase, "batten down the hatches" which means to prepare for the worst. Although I'm no sailor, that's just what I'm having to do here...batten down the hatches, or maybe I should say...the hive!
The weather forecasters here in my area are calling for severe weather, most say bitterly cold, over the next few days. While the daytime temperatures will be in the 30s, the nighttime temperatures are dipping into the upper teens, low 20s range. Not taking a chance that it could freeze my honey bees, I've decided to shut off the screened bottom board until the temperatures climb back up a little warmer.
Closing off screened bottom boards in cold weather can be the subject of controversy among beekeepers. Some never shut off their bottom boards..while others say that when the weather gets nasty, they shut it off to restrict air-flow inside the hive and make it easier for the cluster to conserve heat. My though is this...if screened bottom boards make it better to increase ventilation for the bees in the hot summer months...closing it off during extreme cold temperatures to reduce the frigid air-flow can't be all that bad. So I have elected to close it off until the temperatures stabilize again.
I am really fortunate that I have friends in the sign business. Steve Moore and his wife own Southern Screen Printing and Graphics, and they make all sorts of signs including campaign signs and those signs you see for big sales..and they also make special notice signs for our local city government. The signs are made of heavy-duty plastic corrugated cardboard which is basically weatherproof. Unfortunately for Steve, if they make a mistake in the printing, they have to throw the sign away. But his loss is my gain. I asked Steve if I could have some of the throw-away signs for my bee hive..and he gladly handed me about ten of them. So I brought them home and had them in my garage...knowing that I would use them at some point. And now is the time. Thanks, Steve!
As you can see in the pictures, the corrugated cardboard is perfect to slide right under my screened bottom board. I did have to trim off about six-inches down the length of the sign, but nothing else. Luckily I have a spare screened board in my garage and was able to use it for a guide. So I inserted it under the hive and pushed it in.
Voila! As you can see to the right, the sign is pushed all the way to the front of the hive, and now the screened bottom board is completely shut off from the outside air. Plus I have enough excess on the edge that I can just reach down and pull the sign out and not have to dig around to grasp it. Oh, and he also had some plain white signs that had flaws in them, so I can use those to do mite counts when the need arises. Plus I have enough extra signs to use for my new hives that pop up in the future.
Here's an idea. If you're like me, I hate to see campaign signs sit around for weeks or months after an election. So now you can see just how those signs could be put to good use after their original usefulness is long gone. Of course, don't get yourself into trouble taking them if it is against the law.
As I close this out, I would like to take time to wish a happy new year to one and all! May 2010 be your best year ever in so many ways!