Polystyrene beehives are known to be highly effective at overwintering and promoting fast spring build-up in honeybee colonies. This is mainly due to their superior insulation properties, which help to address several factors that contribute to colony loss during winter. These factors include:
Reduced risk of starvation: Polystyrene beehives can significantly increase the survival rates of honeybee colonies by reducing the risk of starvation. The hives' superior insulation properties help to maintain warm and dry conditions inside the hive, which reduces the amount of energy bees need to stay warm and conserve their honey stores.
Stable hive temperature: Consistent hive temperature is critical for the survival of honeybees during winter. Polystyrene beehives help to stabilize the internal hive temperature, preventing it from dropping too low, which reduces the stress created when bees become too cold and unable to move.
Warm and dry environment: Polystyrene hives also help to maintain a warm and dry environment inside the hive, which is critical for the bees' survival during winter. Excessive moisture can cause the colony to become too cold and lead to hypothermia. The warm and dry conditions inside a polystyrene beehive also enable bees to live longer and healthier lives, resulting in stronger and more sustainable colonies.
Increased brood raising: The superior insulation properties of polystyrene beehives enable the colony to achieve and maintain a consistent brood-raising temperature. This facilitates early brood raising, resulting in a faster increase in the colony's population. The additional resources in the form of healthy worker bees enable the colony to begin foraging for nectar and pollen earlier, which is critical for the colony's survival.
Improved hive hygiene: Polystyrene beehives also help to maintain a clean and hygienic environment inside the hive. Harmful bacteria and fungi cannot develop and thrive as they can in timber in a polystyrene beehive. Furthermore, with fewer bees consumed with thermal management such as clustering, the colony can assign more of its population to hive cleaning, ensuring a healthy living environment.
Overall, the superior insulation properties of polystyrene beehives can significantly increase the survival rates of honeybee colonies during winter and promote faster spring build-up. However, proper hive management practices, such as ensuring the colony has sufficient honey and pollen stores for winter and regular hive inspections are still essential for maintaining the health of honeybee colonies, regardless of the type of hive used.