This is my first winter packdown.I currently have 2 brood boxes and an ideal box on my hive (8 frames). The ideal is full of honey. The middle brood box has 2 full frames of honey and lots of brood. The bottom box has one full frame of honey and then all the other frames have tiny (each frame-about 20 cells) filled with pollen & smail amounts of patchy brood.I was going to take the bottom box off for winter. Question is;
They have plenty of honey but will they be ok without any pollen? (There wasn’t any in the top 2 boxes). Should I feed them pollen?and how much?
Hello and welcome to the Flow forum!
Looking at your general climate (without knowing a major town nearby), I would say they will be fine with minimal pollen. I certainly would not feed them pollen or pollen sub at this time of the season. If you do, you may get a burst of bees which then need honey at a time when there is no nectar… It is all a question of balance.
I am in southern California. Probably a bit warmer than you, depending on where exactly you are. My hives never go broodless. My mentor (I have 30 years of experience, but not all of it where I now live) says that the brood box should have a decent frame of pollen going into winter. If his don’t, he feeds them mid-autumn with a limited amount of pollen sub, then feeds a whole lot more just as spring is about to start.
If you are close to town there are usually a lot of garden flowers about which are poor in nectar but rich in pollen. Two broods and an Ideal full of honey I believe more than adequate. Talk to any other beekeepers in your area for confirmation.
I think Dan said he plans to take the bottom brood box away.
Hi @Bee5, is that what locals recommend?
It always depends on your individual colony and it would be hard to judge if this is your first hive. All you can do is go by local advice, but if possible, get a second and third opinion.
I can’t advice anything. We run single brood boxes mainly and for winter only take additional supers off, so over winter dearth, just have a single brood and single super for stores.
If your colony still has brood in the lower box, and stores, why take it away? Maybe they have a winter plan? Maybe they keep it for insulation? Could be their pollen stores for spring?
I guess they would be pretty shocked if their careful winter preps got taken away from under them.
Just set your mind to understanding your bees, away from commercial interests.
The bees will likely keep up their numbers to be able to defend the frames they have.
In the end, go by local advice, commercial AND bee-centric.
Thank you so much to everyone for their advice! Its really great to have your support on hand being a newbie.