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My first winter cluster


Hi, I would like to share my first winter clusters with you, I have no real reference if they are fine or not :slight_smile:

This hive is a small starter of Carnicas. It was a late starter, the queens in our course had some difficulties getting mated this season (bad weather,…)

This one sits a bit wider, on 7 streets, and appears to sit lower. This hive has a medium super below this box. Honey flows where low so I decided to put it below - there was barely honey to harvest so I thought it was better almost empty below than above. Maybe these Buckfasts are less intimidated by the “cold” - it’s still around 7°C during the day and above 0 at night.

They both sit frontleft. I read somewhere front is good, as they work their way back through the foodstores (so there is still stores left).
The hives have a styrofoam roof, and they stand in my greenhouse so I guess they have comfortable conditions (from a bees perspective :p)

At least they are still there :slight_smile: Fascinating to see the cluster. I thought they would be more in a winter-mode (saw most people do their wintercheck/varroa treatment without suites), but in both hives 3 or 4 were immediately checking me out during my quick in and out…

So far so good ?


The lower one appears to be on 5 maybe 6 seams and appears OK
What stores have they?
The lower one is desperately tiny. I would put them in a nuc box and feed them candy rolled out thin on top of a sheet of greaseproof cut exactly the same size and put it right on top of the top bars
I would question why you are opening them up in winter but just as well you did

As a rule of thumb you can expect the winter cluster to be the same size as the brood going into late Autumn


Thanks Dee,
the reason why I opened them was to do the varroa treatment with oxalid acid.
I opened the first pictured hive first, and I was indeed somewhat troubled at first when I then opened the second - my bigger hive - and saw just a few bees clustering on top of the frames. At second glance however there were at least 7 seams filled with bees below the tops, and I would size overal dimension of that ball “below surface” to be more like a volleybal where the first one is more like a handbal. I did not separate the top brood box from the lower medium to see if they were indeed sitting lower - I had seen videos from beekeepers treating who had the same finding: apparently no cluster but teh ball sitting lower between the boxes. I did not want to break up the ball to check if it where the case.

It is amazing to see how much difference there is between the two breeds, the buckfasts continued gathering a lot longer than the carnicas, and maybe related were interested later in my winterfeeds… Maybe this is another difference on the list (yet they differ in housing too: the first one single box with solid bottom, second 1,5 box mainly closed mesh)

They both had good stores in oktober when I last checked.