Tip of the month – Insulating a Hive Insulating a hive is seen by some as ‘molly coddling’ the bees, the thought being that a healthy, strong colony will overwinter without any problem, especially here in the more temperate south of the country. Others see insulation as a must have as we try to emulate the bees’ natural home of a well-insulated cavity in a tree trunk. Whether you do or don’t is down to your own preferences, but there are some simple and quick actions that can help our bees along the way without putting ourselves to too much expense or time. We all know that heat rises, so, as in your loft at home, insulating the roof (or more precisely, under the roof) of a hive is the simplest thing to do. A whole range of materials are suitable for this, and most are available around the house at little or no expense. A piece of polystyrene cut to the right size (25mm thick is fine and can often be found as packaging when purchasing goods from shops). Foam rubber as used in old sofa cushions (slab, not crumb) is also useful. ‘Skip diving’ can produce small offcuts of foam board such as Celotex which is ideal. Even simpler (and cheaper / easily available) is a dustbin liner with some dry leaves inside which can be moulded to the right size and shape to fit under your roof. Regarding the side walls of the hive, once again Celotex or polystyrene can be cut to size and taped together to form an outside skin to the hive. Alternatively, you can purchase some ready-made ‘hive cosys’ from retailers such as Thornes for under £30 which are easy to fit and do the job. However, cheaper alternatives are available. The black jackets designed to go around the cold water tanks in your loft that can be purchased from the likes of Toolstation or Screwfix will do the same job at fraction of the price or, even cheaper, and adding a bit of colour to your apiary, why not go for the bright red hot water jackets that envelope the hot water tanks in the airing cupboard? At the time of writing, the Screwfix item is less than £12 and one unit will do two national hives (brood box and 1x super). Overall, a bit of insulation can be provided very cheaply and with little effort – and anything we can do to help our bees along can’t be bad.