I am a beginner starting with a Flowhive 2 in upstate NY. I am curious about how to winter the bees. I see most remove the Flow Super in winter. Is there enough honey in the brood box for the bees to get through winter? Do you add a 2nd brood box or do you always feed the bees through the winter? If feeding, do you give them dry sugar? Candy? Sugar water feeders would freeze I would think. Thank you for any insight.
Definitely do not leave your flow super on during the winter for a few reasons - the honey will candy and the queen will likely lay eggs in there since you’ll have to have removed the queen excluder.
I overwinter with a single brood box. You can look up the university of Guelph YouTube videos on single brood box overwintering… they’re not far from you geographically or climatologically. Many/most people do add a second brood box and make sure they they are well stocked for winter.
Candy or dry sugar over winter, but only for emergency feed if they are light. The bees won’t take syrup once the temperatures get below about 50°F.
My current lineup of three hives includes a single deep and two deep+mediums. The latter configuration is what works best for me here in southeastern PA near PHILLY!!! GO BIRDS
Ahem, back to beekeeping.
The single was a late split that I didn’t super, and has needed periodic feeding since November. One of the other two has also needed feed, and more frequently because the colony size is larger and because was robbed in September. I have found that Dadant AP23 winter patties are a straightforward and simple way to feed my colonies in winter when needed, because they’re more nutritious than plain fondant and easier to handle & place on the top bars than dry sugar.
The video @chau06 posted is well worth watching. I would add to what he said about only feeding in emergencies, just to clarify - what you want is to ensure that you’ve left the bees with the right amount of their own stores so you are less likely to have to feed. But, you should absolutely not hesitate to feed if you see any signs they’re getting through their stores too early:
When you heft the hive it’s too light, and spring is still weeks or months away
When you lift the lid the bees are all right underneath in the topmost area
I use an extra inner cover between two shims to create headroom for patties, plus insulation under the lid. I also wrap my hives with thick rolls of insulation called bee cozies. Temps in winter months here can swing from 5F to 50F, so insulation is very important. Smallest, mouse-proof entrances under slatted racks have also been helpful in blocking wind and rain.
All that said, your wintering success will truly rest on your varroa mite strategy from spring on
Thank you, great video too
Thank you for the feedback
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I’m in upstate NY too. I use the above product to feed my single brood box just before winter. 2:1 sugar to water, and the bees love it. Probably fill the tray four or five times. They drink it dry in about four hours. My hive looks good through January with the few new sacrificial bees noticed just outside the entrance every couple days. Hive is insulated with 1.5 inches of styrofoam all around, and about 8” of snow on top, lately. Good luck.
Thanks Tom, I’ll check them out!