So what are bee blankets and why are they needed? Bee blankets are exactly what they sound like, (well maybe not exactly—we won’t be making tiny bee blankets for every bee!). No, a bee blanket is a special blanket that will be wrapped around each hive box (pictured here) and will act as insulation in order to help keep the temperature and humidity inside the hive stable.
So, Why are they needed?
The main reason we want to begin using bee blankets is to improve the chances of a colony’s survival. During the winter months, the bees rarely (if at all) leave their hives. Instead they cluster into a ball, work around the clock, and focus all their energy on keeping the temperature inside the hive a warm 91 to 97 degrees Fahrenheit, as well as keeping the humidity levels stable. They do this by constantly being in motion—shaking, shivering, and vibrating to create heat. Most of the bees’ energy is used in this process, so you can only imagine the amount of energy it takes to keep the hive warm for an entire season. Not only do they expend energy to keep the hive warm, but during summer, when it gets overwhelmingly hot, they are working just as hard by constantly bringing in water and fanning their wings to keep the hive cool.
When bees use up energy, they replenish it by eating their honey and if they don’t have enough food stored they will unfortunately not survive. So what a bee blanket does is help maintain the temperature within the hive from fluctuating too drastically when the weather gets either too hot or too cold. With the current state of our climate, we have been getting out of season weather and extreme weather as well, so we want to provide our beautiful bees with extra help so they are not using up too much of their energy keeping their hive’s temperature and humidity under control.
Helping the bees keep the humidity levels stable will also help reduce the occurrence of common diseases and pests, especially varroa mite infestations. Varroa mites are one of the most common pests that can plague bee hives. They are tiny parasites that attach themselves to the bees, feed off them, and ultimately kill them. These mites prefer the cooler and dryer sections of the hive so keeping humidity levels high and stable will keep them from reproducing and spreading to the entire colony.
Replicating their natural habitat
In the wild, bees tend to create colonies in hollow spaces such as tree trunks because they naturally provide great insulation. In order to replicate that natural insulation, beekeepers use bee blankets, as the standard hive boxes that are most commonly used allow for higher airflow and poor insulation, which makes it more difficult for the bees to keep the temperature and humidity levels in their hive stable. The health and well-being of our beautiful bees is our top priority so we are constantly looking for ways to improve their hive boxes and give them as close to a natural habitat as we can.
Hand-making 40 bee blankets
We are hand making these bee blankets ourselves and we want to make them using the best and safest material for our bees so the materials we are using are:
- Roofing membrane—because it is breathable and weather-proof
- Havelock wool— because it provides insulation, is mold resistant, & lightweight
- Cotton fabric—because it is breathable and will provide a layer between the wool and roofing membrane
We will be wrapping each blanket only on the lower half of each hive box for now. Why not the whole box? We have never used bee blankets before so we wanted to insure the bee blankets are in fact breathable and safe for the bees. The brood (where the baby bees are located) are also usually located in the lower box, so we wanted to insure that area is properly insulated first.
To create our bee blankets we referenced The Idle Beekeeper by Bill Anderson. A video of the entire process will be coming soon, so stay tuned!
How YOU are helping
Until we reach our goal, 10% of every purchase you make will go directly into helping our little bees be extra ready for any harsh weather that this year will inevitably bring. We are super excited to start this project and we are so happy to have you on this journey with us. You can check our progress here at happyorganics.co or by taking a peak at our emails where we will include our bee blanket tracker! Thank you so much for your continued support!