A Practical Comparison of Cold Storage and Traditional Outdoor Hive Wintering Methods in Central West Virginia

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2021: $7,317.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2023
Grant Recipient: Sugar Bottom Farm LLC
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Eric Grandon
Sugar Bottom Farm LLC


  • Animals: bees


  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, preventive practices
  • Crop Production: beekeeping, pollinator health, winter storage
  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, networking, on-farm/ranch research, other
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, risk management
  • Pest Management: weather monitoring
  • Sustainable Communities: sustainability measures

    Proposal summary:

    Honeybee losses in West Virginia are higher than the national average.  many beekeepers in our area believe the variation of temperature and the short periods in which they occur are contributing factors to winter mortality.  We propose overwintering a group of bees within a controlled cold storage environment of 38-40 degrees F.  from December 1 to March 1, measuring colony mortality against a control group which will be overwintered outside in the bee yard.  Bees in both groups will begin as packages, inspected and treated equally, lodged in disinfected equipment and randomized for placement within the storage parameters of this study.  Results will be shared throughout our area in venues offered by the West Virginia Small Farms Center, West Virginia University Extension, West Virginia State University, West Virginia Department of Agriculture and the West Virginia Beekeepers Association.  

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. This project seeks to answer the question, " Will West Virginia winter losses decrease by placing honeybees in cold storage?"
    2. This project seeks to answer the question, " Will honeybees emerge stronger and healthier than outside bees when overwintered in cold storage?"
    3. This project seeks to answer the question,  " Will the cost of colonies saved offset the costs of materials for cold storage?"
    4. This project seeks to answer the question, " Will there be a reduction in spring mite treatment cost?"
    5. This project seeks to answer the question, " Will this method be beneficial for all sizes of beekeepers?
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.