For recomended standard wintering procedure see Bee Lab Free-bees.
A Moisture Board (3/4” fiber board, trade name Bildrite® <www.bildrite.net/sheathing.htm>) is used over the inner cover for wintering. It will absorb moisture from the inside of the hive and release it to the outside. The product comes with or without impregnated asphalt. Do not use the one with the asphalt.
The purpose of the moisture board is to absorb moisture from within the colony (through the hole in the inner cover) and evaporate it out the outside.
Why do we recomend this fiber board. 1. It serves the purpose. 2. They are easy to handle. 3. They are reusable year after year (as long as you remember where you put it.)
Can you use something different? Yes! Just keep in mind the purpose (above). Some suggestion are listed here. These have not been tested by me but others have told me they work.
I am currently testing another product similar to Bildrite that is more common. It is called 440 homasote. It is a recycled newspaper product. It has performed well in lab trials and I will test it on colonies this winter (2011). If you try it let me know how it works for you.
1. Put a screen over the inner cover hole. Put a 1.5 to 3" ring on top (a ring is a really really shallow box. You could use the one from your Formic or thymol treatment.) then fill the ring with straw or wood chips.
2. You can use newspaper if you open the first fold, stack up 3/8" thick pile of newpaper and fold it in half and put it on top just like a moisture board.
It should be stacked like this
Not like this.
Some things you should not use!
Plastic, styrofoam, insulation with kraft paper,
Deep hive bodies (9 1/2") are used as brood chambers. This is where the hive bees will raise the new bees. We recommend drilling a 1" hole (centered 3" above bottom edge) in each deep hive body, ...
The purpose of the hole is to allow an additional entrance in summer and an upper entrance in winter. It can be 1/2 to 1" in diameter. It needs some way to close it off in the winter if it is not the top box.
If you do not want to drill holes in your boxes and you are willing to give up the extra entrances in the summer you can make a different upper entrance. Here are some suggestions from others. Be sure to make a coresponding hole in the black winter cover.
1. Cut a slot in the inner cover as shown to allow an upper entrance. This one actually has 2 slots. Most of the time I see them with just one.