In addition to preparing our winter nucs for the upcoming winter we also visit our out yard production hives to get them ready for the winter. Since we use screen bottom boards on all our production hives we add solid beeswax-dipped 3/4″ flat boards under each screen bottom for the winter months.
We also add a mouse guard to each production hive. The mouse guards we use are a mix of Brushy Mountain metal guards and guards we fashion out of 1/2″ by 1/2″ hardware cloth. The cloth is cut 29 squares, by 8 squares, using aircraft snips.
I then set up a bending jig on my old Workmate bench. While holding down the front part of the cut flat hardware cloth piece with a thin piece of wood, located 3 squares from the front, I form the first bend, bringing it up and over the thin piece of wood in the direction towards where I am standing, so the flat hardware cloth is now shaped into a long C, with the opening facing me; this is the part which will eventually be slid into the hive entrance opening.
Then while the hardware cloth is still being held down I prepare for the second bend by holding a loose piece of wood 2 squares back on the top part of the newly formed C. With my gloved hand I push up the leading edge of the top C while using the loose piece of the wood as a shaping toll – this is the part of the guard which lays flat against the hive body- over the hive entrance. At this point the guard is ready to be slid into the hive entrance- use a hive tool if additional leverage is need to slide in the guard.