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Ventilation/winter and summer


Hi Matt,

I have two of your topbar hives and the temps are cranking into the upper 80’s. Should I have all the corks open or should I have only a few. Also do you leave a few open at the ends for winter or just one on the bottom. The two hives are strong with lots of activity and new bees plus drone and worker brood. Both have 10 and 11 bars.


I would only open as many corks as the bees have access to. I.E. as far as you’ve expanded the follower board. So if the board is halfway across the hive, past the second set of entrances, you could have those 2 + the original 2 open, giving them 4. You can also a couple of the top ventilation holes, though the bees very well may propolize them shut if they don’t want them open. I’ve even seen colonies shut them and then re-open them!

In winter I usually close down all holes except for 1-2 entrances at the end.




I had started my two packages in the middle with 10 bars initially. So, I had opened up one hole since the temps were still in the 40’s. When they started to bump into each other I then opened up the other middle hole. This was about a four weeks back. I did end up moving the follower board towards the end and all the combs as well with a feeder behind the other board at the other end two weeks ago. Now is it ok to open the opening by the beginning comb they built or go all the way to the other end and open that one up? I was thinking that they would be far away from the other end to protect themselves but it still is going down to the 50’s at nite sometimes. I did open two top vent holes and they didn’t seem to like that.


As long as the population is strong and they have significant comb I would be comfortable opening up most of the holes. Just monitor the hive for robbing/fighting at the entrances. If you notice robbing then close them up again down to a couple holes.

What about opening the vent holes didn’t they like?





     Should I close up the ventilation holes in the winter or should I keep any open, i.e. the one above the entrance that I leave open?  Also, do you insulate under the lid or put anything in the "empty side" of the hive during winter for insulation?

Lea in North Carolina



I generally leave them open at this point. As mentioned earlier, the bees propolize them shut if they don’t want them open – this happens often!

Living in Portland, Oregon, I do not insulate under the lid or on the “empty side.” I’ve heard of some using a “quilt box” of some sort under the roof. I’m not sure how effective it would be but you could try it!